The Mitchell Advocate
Council writes letter after reviewing construction and design reports from St. Columban Energy
By Susan Hundertmark
Concerns about industrial wind turbine setbacks, ice throw and the proposed route for the transmission line will be included in a letter from Huron East council to St. Columban Energy LP, council decided at its April 3 meeting.
Clerk-Administrator Brad Knight told councillors that a staff review of St. Columban Energy’s Construction Report and Design/Operations Report brought up concerns about turbines 9 and 10, whose road allowance setbacks were both less than 100 metres.
“At an absolute minimum, they should maintain a distance of 99 metres,” said Knight, noting that turbine 9 is 65 metres from Summerhill Road and 80 metres from Beechwood Line. “We do have issues with this one turbine.”
Knight said turbine locations have been plotted on a GIS map by Huron County staff to give Huron East a visual aid. While turbines are required by the Green Energy Act to be a minimum of 550 metres from non-participating residential receptors, Knight said the requirements to property boundaries and road allowances are not as widely known.
He said the rules say IWTs must be at least hub height distance away from property lines, which in St. Columban Energy’s case is 99.5 metres but can be reduced to the blade length plus 10 metres, which in St. Columban Energy’s case is 65 metres with a 55-metre blade length, if there are mitigation factors outlined in a written report.
Knight said turbine 9 is very close to two residences – 552 metres from one house and 554 metres from another.
“There’s very little room for movement of the turbine,” he said.
Knight said the concern comes from a risk assessment on ice throw, which, using a turbine with a hub height of 80 metres and a rotor diameter of 80 metres, says ice fragments are typically thrown to distances less than 125 metres from the base of the turbine. However, he pointed out the St. Columban turbines have a hub height of 99.5 metres and a rotor diameter of 110 metres.
“If there are icing conditions, the company says the turbine will be shut down but we don’t know if it will shut down quickly enough,” he said. “The important point the administrative committee wanted to make was we don’t think there should be any ice in the road at all.”
“We’re not just talking about cars, but school buses,” said McKillop Coun. Bill Siemon.
While the report based its calculations on a vehicle count of 100 vehicles over a five-day period, Knight said Huron East did its own vehicle count on Summerhill Road and counted 105 vehicles over a 24-hour period.
Knight added that Huron East’s administrative committee wasn’t happy with the proposed route of the transmission line to the Wingham transformer station since it is still planned to go through “the relatively urban area of Cranbrook.”
“Very little meaningful pre-consultation has been provided on the proposed rout and reasons for that route,” he said, adding that St. Columban Energy has rejected Huron East’s suggestion that the transmission line travel up Walton Road and north along McDonald Line.
“They have dismissed that route without giving cause,” said Knight.
Seaforth Coun. Nathan Marshall asked if the Ministry of the Environment would be going through St. Columban Energy’s submission and determining if it’s satisfactory.
“Or, is that up to us?” he asked.
“I don’t know if the MOE will be satisfied with the mitigation measures but I don’t want to leave that for the MOE to pick up,” responded Knight.
Seaforth Coun. Bob Fisher asked if Huron East has recourse if the municipality’s concerns are ignored.
“We don’t have much power but they’ve left us with the ability to comment. At the end of the day, council will be in a bad position if we had the opportunity to comment and we didn’t,” responded Mayor Bernie MacLellan.
Siemon asked if St. Columban Energy had agreed to pay towards a community fund in the same way Next Era has for its transmission lines through Huron East.
“I didn’t see anything in here saying how much they’re willing to pay,” he said.
Knight said St. Columban Energy said they weren’t prepared to pay anything.
“So why would we allow them?” said Siemon.
“If you look at the Electricity Act, they have the right to be there,” responded Knight.
The letters will be sent to Jose Menendez, of St. Columban Energy LP, Shawna Peddle, of Stantec Consulting and the Ministry of the Environment.