Questions & Answers
Question: What happens to surplus power generated by our turbines? Does it really get sold to the United States at a fraction of the price?
Answer:The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) explains that ““spot market energy price changes from hour to hour, day to night, from season to season, and for short periods in response to high levels of demand or sudden changes on the IESO-controlled grid. In the market, generators can submit offers for electric power in different quantities and prices for each hour of the day. Every five minutes, the IESO calculates a new spot market price by balancing the supply of electricity with demand. As demand increases, more expensive offers from generators are accepted, which raises the price of electricity. As demand drops, only the less expensive offers are accepted, which reduces the price.” Surplus energy generation leads to a shift in the supply-demand ratio, and on occasion this means that excess power generated may be sold for less than what it costs to produce, resulting in a “loss”. This process occurs in all forms of energy generation, on all grids, on a local and global level.
Question: Why aren’t the turbines functioning even when its windy, or why is one turning but not another?
Answer:There are a few potential reasons for this. Firstly, wind turbines start to turn when the wind speed reaches about 13km/h and will stop when the wind speed is too high, typically around 90 km/h, to avoid damage to a turbine. This means that turbines are operating roughly 85% of the time. Secondly, wind turbines (like any type of machine) need to have regular maintenance to ensure efficiency. Planned maintenance usually happens during less windy seasons, but there are cases where unplanned maintenance is needed and can happen at any time. Thirdly, the system operator may monitor the output of individual wind farms to maintain a balance on the energy grid. This means they may shut off a farm or certain turbines in order to reduce its output.
Question: How much agricultural land does Dufferin Wind Power use?
Answer: The 49 wind turbines built by Dufferin Wind Power are spread over a total of 6,000 acres. The actual amount of land that has been lost to agriculture is less than one acre per turbine – less than 1 percent of the total land area for the wind turbines and access roads.
|Turbine Foundation/Footing||Approximately 16 square metres (diameter)||50 square metres per turbine|
|49 Turbines||50 square metres x 49 turbines||2,463 square metres|
|Construction / Access Roads||5 metres x 26.5 kilometres (26,500 m)||132,500 square metres|
|Access Roads plus Foundations||132,500 square metres + 2,463 square metres||134,963 square metres|
|Total Area / Turbines||134,963 square metres / 49 Turbines||2,754 square metres|
|Acreage per Turbine||2,754 square metres = 0.68 acres||< 1 acre per turbine|
Question: Why is the Ontario government using Wind Power when there is already enough electricity?
Answer: A clean, reliable and affordable supply of electricity requires a diverse range of generation sources. Renewables, nuclear and natural gas make up the province’s energy supply mix. In 2016, electricity production in Ontario is: 36% nuclear power, 36% renewable sources, and 28% natural gas. We have successfully phased out coal! The 2025 forecast for Ontario’s energy mix is 42% nuclear, 46% renewables and 12% natural gas. Ontario will phase in wind, solar and bioenergy over a longer time period, with 10,700 megawatts online by 2021. By 2025, it is expected that 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy will be online – representing nearly half of Ontario’s installed capacity. We are thrilled to be a part of this shift to clean, renewable energy.
Question: Is wind-generated electricity really better for the environment than traditional methods?
Answer: In comparison to traditional energy generation such as coal-derived electricity, wind-generated electricity has no emission, no waste products and no environmental pollutants. Environmentalist David Suzuki wrote in his foundation’s Website: “When it comes to health, wind power blows away the alternative.”
Question: The construction of wind turbines leaves a carbon footprint, is wind power really a good alternative?
Answer:A wind turbine produces enough clean electricity in 3 to 5 months to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions emitted in its manufacture. A modern wind turbine is designed to operate for more than 20 years. At the end of its working life it can be replaced or the area can be restored to its former use; such as agriculture.
Question: Who decides whether to use wind power or whether to get power from other sources? What is the energy mix?
Answer: The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) works at the heart of Ontario’s power system. The IESO forecasts demand for electricity in the province and assesses whether the existing and proposed generation and transmission facilities are adequate to meet Ontario’s needs.
In order to adapt to the evolving energy landscape, the IESO has introduced several new operating innovations with the help of its market participant partners. Flexibility, essential to the real-time balancing of supply and demand, is being addressed now through a variety of sources, including increased maneuverability of some nuclear units, demand response measures and new tools for managing wind and solar variability. The mix is dictated by many factors, including weather conditions, usage, location, time of day, etc.
Ontario has recently phased out coal energy generation, which is a huge step toward cleaner energy. The current energy supply mix, comprising a total of nearly 36,000 MW of electricity is:
- 36% or nearly 13,000 MW from Nuclear
- 28% or nearly 10,000 MW from Gas
- 36% or just over 13,000 MW from renewable sources (including hydro, wind, solar, & biofuel)
Question: How noisy are wind turbines?
Answer: Noisy is a very subjective term. Under the Ontario Renewable Energy Approval (REA) Regulation (O. Reg. 359/09, as amended by O. Reg. 521/10), a minimum setback distance of 550 m and 40dBA must exist between the centre of the base of the wind turbine and the centre of the nearest noise receptor (e.g., a dwelling or home). This noise level corresponds to the WHO (Europe) night-noise guideline (WHO 2009), which is a health-based limit value “necessary to protect the public, including most of the vulnerable groups such as children, the chronically ill and the elderly, from the adverse health effects of night noise”. In other words, this value is protective of effects on sleep. In general terms, 40 dBA is what can be expected from a quiet room, a library or office (OMOE 2012).
Question: Do wind turbines make people sick?
Answer:There have been numerous studies conducted by Health Canada, the Government of Ontario, and independent researchers. Although Wind Turbines are relatively new technology and still require more analysis, so far there is no evidence to suggest that Wind Turbines are hazardous to human health.
Health Canada conducted a study in 2012 in collaboration with Statistics Canada called Statistics Canada Official Title: Community Noise and Health Study. Wind Turbine Noise was not found to be associated with self-reported sleep disturbance or disorder, self-reported illnesses including migraines, headaches, dizziness etc., chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. Additionally, even self-reported perceived stress and quality of life were not found to be affected by or associated with Wind Turbine Noise.
You can read a summary of the study here.
In “The Potential Health Impact of Wind Turbines” (May 2010), Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health examined the scientific literature related to wind turbines and public health, considering potential effects, such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance. Briefly, conclusions of the report were that:
- “…while some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects. The sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct health effects, although some people may find it annoying”.
The report also concluded that low frequency sound and infrasound from current generation upwind model turbines are well below the pressure sound levels at which known health effects occur. Further, the report states that the scientific evidence to date does not support the claim that vibration caused by low frequency wind turbine noise causes adverse health effects.
Overall, health and medical agencies agree that when sited properly sound from wind turbines is not causally related to adverse effects (e.g., Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit, 2008; Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council, 2010; Australian Government, 2011, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), 2012).
Because human health and safety is everyone’s top priority, the global wind industry consistently cooperates and engages with science, medical, environmental and health professionals to ensure that there is ongoing credible research.
Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit. 2008. The Health Impact of Wind Turbines: A Review of the Current White, Grey and Published Literature.
Minnesota Department of Health Environmental Health Division. 2009. Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines.
Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council. 2010. Wind Turbines and Health: A Rapid Review of the Evidence.
Australian Government, The Senate, Community Affairs References Committee. 2011. The Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms
Question: Measuring electromagnetic fields (EMF) around wind turbines in Canada: is there a human health concern?
Answer: No there is not, according to a recent study of more than 600 magnetic field measurements carried out at the Kingsbridge 1 Wind Farm located near Goderich, Ontario. Magnetic field levels in the vicinity of wind turbines are lower than levels that people are exposed to on a daily basis in homes, offices and schools, and much lower than exposure received from many common household electrical devices.
Read the full report from McCallum et al published February 2014.
Question: Is it true that low frequency or infrasonic noise created by wind turbines is damaging to health and/or hearing?
Answer: There is no scientifically defensible evidence to support the idea that low frequency or infrasonic noise from wind turbine power generation will negatively affect human health. For example, to assess the possibility that the operation of wind turbines may create unacceptable levels of low frequency noise and infrasound, O’Neal et al. (2011) conducted a study to measure wind turbine noise outside and within nearby residences of turbines. O’Neal et al. found that the measured low frequency noise and infrasound at as close as 305m were less than the standards and criteria published by the UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, American National Standards Institute and Japan Ministry of Environment. Furthermore, Turnbull et al. (2012) recently measured infrasound from a number of sources in Australia including two wind farms (with 2.1 and 2.0 MW turbines), a beach, a coastal cliff, a city and a power station. The authors concluded that “Infrasound is prevalent in urban and coastal environments at similar levels to the level of infrasound measured close to a wind turbine”. In fact, the measured level in the infrasound range 25m from a beach (75 dBG) was greater than that measured as close as 85m from a wind farm (72 dBG).
O’Neal, R.D., Hellweg Jr, R.D., Lampeter RM. 2011. Low frequency noise and infrasound from wind turbines. Noise Control Eng J. 59:135-157.
Turnbull, C., Turner J., and Walsh, D. 2012. Measurement and level of infrasound from wind farms and other sources. Acoustics Australia. 40 (1): 45-50
Question: Can living in close proximity to wind turbines cause illnesses such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance that have been called Wind Turbine Syndrome?
Answer: There is no scientific or medical evidence to date that makes a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and self-reported adverse health effects. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health examined the scientific literature related to wind turbines and public health, considering potential effects, such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance. The report concluded that: “…the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects. The sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct health effects, although some people may find it annoying.” Furthermore, in January 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) released a report entitled “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel” conducted by an independent expert panel comprised entirely of members with backgrounds in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, neurology and sleep medicine, neuroscience, and mechanical engineering. One of the conclusions of the Panel was that there is no evidence for a collection of effects related to wind turbines that could support the notion of Wind Turbine Syndrome.
The sound level from wind turbines at regulated residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct health effects, although some people may find it annoying.
Question: What are electromagnetic fields (EMF)?
Answer: EMF are invisible lines of forces that you cannot see or feel that surround electrical equipment, power cords and wires that carry electricity, including outdoor power lines. EMF, radio waves, microwaves, visible light and x-rays are all forms of electromagnetic energy. When something is plugged into the wall, you can have an electric field; when that something is turned on, you have an electric and magnetic field. Electric fields are commonly represented in units of volts per metre (V/m). Magnetic fields are represented by two common units: microTesla (µT) and milliGauss (mG).
Question: Are Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) considered possible carcinogens?
Answer: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and World health Organization (WHO) have categorized EMF as a Class 2B possible human carcinogen, based on a weak association of childhood leukemia and magnetic field strength above a certain level. The Class 2B listing means there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Very importantly, however, is that the human studies are weakened by various methodological problems, which the WHO has identified as a combination of selection bias, some degree of confounding and chance. There are also no accepted mechanisms that would suggest that low-level exposures of EMF are involved in cancer development (the Toronto Hospital for Sick Kids has written: “So far, no one can explain convincingly how these photons, carrying less energy than visible light, could hurt the body’s cells”) and animal studies have been largely negative. Thus, on balance (based on over 25,000 scientific and medical studies and over 30 years of research), the evidence related to childhood leukemia is not strong enough to be considered causal (WHO 2007). There are no Canadian government guidelines for the Canadian public in terms of EMF and Health Canada has stated: “You do not need to take action regarding daily exposures to electric and magnetic fields at extremely low frequencies. There is no conclusive evidence of any harm caused by exposures at levels found in Canadian homes and schools, including those located just outside the boundaries of power line corridors” (Health Canada 2010).
Question: Are electromagnetic fields (EMF) unique to wind and transmission line facilities?
Answer: No, people around the world are exposed to EMF. Health Canada (2010) has stated: “On a daily basis, most Canadians are exposed to EMFs generated by household wiring, fluorescent lighting, and any electrical appliance that plugs into the wall, including hair dryers, vacuum cleaners and toasters”. For some Canadians this also includes exposure to EMF from power lines and transformer boxes. Health Canada (2010) has also stated “When you are indoors at home, the magnetic fields from high voltage power lines and transformer boxes are weaker than those from household electrical appliances”.
Question: Do EMFs affect the environment?
Answer: There are only a limited number of studies on the environmental effects of EMFs. The research to date does not show significant evidence that they have an impact on land-based or aquatic plant or animal life unless those organisms are extremely close to very strong sources of EMFs.
Question: Do wind farms/turbines have a negative impact on residential property values?
Answer: In summary, no. Multiple studies around the world found no evidence wind turbines negatively impact property values. With wind energy projects providing additional, stable revenue for landowners and municipalities, wind turbines could just as easily have a positive effect on land values.
A 2010 study conducted in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, found there was no statistically relevant relationship between the presence of a wind project and negative effects on property values. According to another study performed by the U.S. Department of Energy, after examining various stigmas associated with conditions causing poor resale values, the study found that Wind turbines have no measureable effects:
“Although each of the analysis techniques used in this report has strengths and weaknesses, the results are strongly consistent in that each model fails to uncover conclusive evidence of the presence of any of the three property value stigmas. Based on the data and analysis presented in this report, no evidence is found that home prices surrounding wind facilities are consistently, measurably, and significantly affected by either the view of wind facilities or the distance of the home to those facilities. Although the analysis cannot dismiss the possibility that individual or small numbers of homes have been or could be negatively impacted, if these impacts do exist, they are either too small and/or too infrequent to result in any widespread and consistent statistically observable impact. Moreover, to the degree that homes in the present sample are similar to homes in other areas where wind development is occurring, the results herein are expected to be transferable.” – Source: http://eetd.lbl.gov…
Question: Do wind farms have deadly effects on local wildlife?
Answer: There is some impact, but the impact is relatively low when tower placements are done correctly. The Dufferin Wind Power Project has undergone an extensive Natural Heritage Assessment that has been reviewed by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Any construction project has effects on wildlife but mitigation measures were in place to ensure minimal disturbance to all types of wildlife, including birds and bats. Now that the project is operational, a monitoring program for birds and bats is in place; a requirement for all wind farm projects.
Proper tower location can overcome most of the threats to birds and bats. Of relevance is a recent study that noted “the number of birds killed in wind developments is substantially lower relative to estimated annual bird casualty rates from a variety of other anthropogenic [human] factors including vehicles, buildings and windows, power transmission lines, communication towers, toxic chemicals including pesticides, and feral and domestic cats.” – Source: www.nationalwind.org/…
Question: What effects do turbines have on livestock?
Answer: The general consensus is that farm animals adjust quickly to the presence of wind turbines.