Wind turbine encounters turbulence

Staff recommends possibility of wind turbine at Sandy Hollow landfill site be part of a comprehensive waste-management master plan

The notion of a wind turbine atop Sandy Hollow landfill site has a breeze to its back, but it’s a gust tempered by a staff suggestion that the placing of a turbine at the site be considered within the context of an overall waste-management master plan.
Staff recommended that general committee endorse a motion to fund a study on the feasibility of placing a wind turbine at the city landfill as part of the solid-waste management master plan process, and that the study be funded to a maximum of $35,000 from council’s strategic priorities fund.
Barrie WindCatchers has been trying to bring a wind turbine to Barrie for more than 10 years, making a number of submissions to successive city councils. In January, Peter Bursztyn, co-chair of Barrie WindCatchers, addressed council in the first of Mayor Jeff Lehman’s open-mic sessions. (Click here to read that City Scene Barrie story).
In 2006 the group made a presentation to the city’s community services committee, detailing their plans for a turbine and asking for the city’s support. A subsequent motion endorsed the group’s efforts to bring a wind turbine to Barrie.
The group obtained $15,000 from the Community Power Fund, created a website and got a further 25 people to join them, a staff report says.
In 2007 the City further committed to the introduction of wind power to Barrie by adopting a motion calling for consultants to “be retained to install a meteorological tower with wind-monitoring equipment at the Barrie landfill to conduct a wind study for a minimum of one year to determine the viability of installing an electricity-generating wind turbine(s) at this site.”
The cost of that project was $55,000, to be taken from the council priority account; PowerStream ended up kicking in $30,000 and Barrie WindCatchers paid $10,000 for an electrical interconnection study.
An area west of the operations compound at the landfill site was identified as a preferred location for the turbine. After some delays the monitoring tower was erected on Oct. 10, 2008. It was decommissioned a year later.
It was estimated the average wind speed at the monitoring site was 6.1 mIs (method of Independent Storms), slightly higher than anticipated wind speeds of 6 mIs.
In a subsequent report, it was found that several homes at the top of Miller Drive in Springwater Township were within 500 metres of the preferred location for a turbine; in its 2009 Green Energy Act, the Ontario government established a minimum setback of 550 metres.
“As the province was about to release new requirements for renewable energy projects and had indicated setback requirements from residential dwellings would be 550 metres, the potential to site a wind turbine at this location within the landfill site became problematic,” the staff report says.
A final report to council in December 2009 on the project indicated that the preferred area for the wind turbine, one that would meet provincial setback regulations, was in close proximity to the working area of the landfill site. Staff suggested further setbacks for safety reasons.
“The current proposed location is within an area identified by staff as having potential future waste-management uses. (Locating) a wind turbine at this location could permanently limit or eliminate options currently available for future waste-management uses,” the report states.
The Green Energy Act lays out a number of steps that must be completed before a project gets a green light. The process involves a number of different ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Environment (renewable energy process) and the Ontario Power Authority (the Feed in Tariff (FIT) contracts).
The consultant who did the monitoring study indicated a single turbine would cost $7 million; Barrie WindCatchers says the price would be $5 million. It’s estimated that the annual return on a turbine would be almost $600,000, with operating costs of $74,000.
The Environmental Operations Branch plans to develop a solid waste-management master plan to identify Barrie’s future waste-management needs.
“As the Master Plan will recommend the future uses for the lands associated with the landfill after closure and identify the changes that will need to occur on the property over the next 13 years to accommodate those uses, it is important that an item that could influence those choices, such as the wind turbine, be identified and accounted for in the report.”
The staff report further states that a waste-management master plan that includes a wind turbine would assist Barrie WindCatchers obtain support, including funding from the OPA Community Energy Program Partnership. Funding from this program could be used to hire a staff person to lead the project, develop a business plan, determine an ownership group, and create a process to sell shares to help pay for the project.

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