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Backgrounder: Wind Turbines - Proposed Requirements and Setbacks

Archived Backgrounder

Backgrounder: Wind Turbines - Proposed Requirements and Setbacks

The Green Energy Act allows for the creation of environmental requirements and setbacks for renewable energy projects to be identified in regulation and developed in consultation with Ontarians.

The proposed approval process is intended to provide clear provincial rules, create certainty for stakeholders and proponents, and require all proposed renewable energy projects to meet provincially mandated requirements, as described in the Proposed Content for the Renewable Energy Approval Regulation.

One proposed requirement of interest to many Ontarians is setbacks for wind turbines, and the ministry's proposed approach is outlined below.

General Requirements for Wind Turbines

The ministry is proposing that developers of all renewable energy projects including wind turbines meet general requirements, including consultation with local residents, municipalities and Aboriginal communities; studies and research required for approval; and identification of potential problems and how they can be mitigated.

Setbacks

The proposal also includes setbacks for wind energy projects from receptors, such as dwellings.

The ministry is proposing a minimum setback for wind turbines of 550 metres to ensure noise levels do not exceed 40 decibels at the receptor. Forty decibels is approximately the noise level experienced in a quiet office or library.

The applicable setbacks would rise with the number of turbines and the sound level rating of selected turbines. For example, a turbine with a sound power level of 106 decibels would have to meet a setback of 950 metres from the nearest receptor.

A facility with eight turbines with a sound power level of 105 decibels would need to meet a  setback of 1000 metres.      

All wind turbines with a sound power level greater than 107 decibels, regardless of the number, would require a noise study, as would projects involving more than 26 turbines within 1.5 km of any receptor.

The ministry is also proposing that as a condition of approval for wind turbine projects, proponents would be required to monitor and address any perceptible infrasound (vibration) or low frequency noise as a condition of the Renewable Energy Approval.

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