Frequently Asked Questions

MESGI’G UGJU’S’N WIND FARM

This page contains answers to the most frequently asked questions about wind power. If you don’t find your question on this page, or you would like more detailed information, please visit the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s WindFacts website, or click here to contact us directly.

1. Will you be hiring local people to build the project?
This project represents a job opportunity for Mi’gmaqs and other local workers. A total of 389 people worked on the Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n wind farm site in 2015. Of these, 87 workers were from Mi’gmaq communities and another 225 lived in the area.

Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n Wind Farm, L.P. is committed to using local companies and workers whenever they offer products and services of equivalent quality at competitive prices.

2. Who will be consuming the electricity produced by the Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n wind farm?
The electricity produced by the wind farm will be distributed through the Hydro-Québec distribution network. In fact, Hydro-Québec Distribution will be the sole buyer and will distribute the electricity purchased as needed to its clientele both in the region and across Quebec.

Wind Turbine Lifespan

3. What is the lifespan for the wind turbines being installed?
The wind turbines have a certified lifespan of 20 years. Under Hydro-Québec Distribution’s power purchase agreement, the wind turbine manufacturers must provide a certificate guaranteeing a lifespan of 20 years. But this lifespan may end up being longer, depending on the weather conditions at the site and the quality of the maintenance program.

4. Is it true that after 20 years, if the contract for the sale of electricity is not renewed, the wind farm will be dismantled?
It’s true. The term of the electricity purchase agreement between Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n Wind Farm and Hydro-Québec Distribution is 20 years. If the two parties do not renew the contract after 20 years, the wind farm will be dismantled, according to the rules currently in force. Hydro-Québec Distribution insisted that a fund be created to provide for the dismantling of the wind farm. Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n Wind Farm L.P. will make specific deposits into the fund. The amounts to be deposited will be calculated by a specialized, independent firm, to ensure sufficient funds to cover the costs of dismantling the wind farm.

Impact on Wildlife

5. Will the wind turbines affect birds?
In Quebec, bird mortality due to wind turbines is very rare.  During the 1980s, particularly in California, some wind farms that were poorly located and designed with trellis-style towers had a major impact on certain bird species. In the wake of these unfortunate experiences, further research led to a better understanding of bird behaviour so as to find better locations for wind turbines. Observations made following the construction of newer wind farms have shown that wind turbines now cause very few bird deaths compared to other types of infrastructure or human activity.

Studies have also shown that, across Canada, the average mortality rate is 8.2 birds/wind turbine/year.1 In Quebec, that average is 1.6 birds/wind turbine/year.2

1. Zimmerling, J. R., A. C. Pomeroy, M. V. d’Entremont & C. M. Francis (2013). “Canadian Estimate of Bird Mortality Due to Collisions and Direct Habitat Loss Associated with Wind Turbine Developments.” Avian Conservation and Ecology, 8 (2): 10.

2. Féret, M. (2016, February). “10 ans de suivis fauniques au Québec par PESCA Environnement.” Lecture presented at Produire l’énergie de demain, a symposium held by the Association québécoise de la production d’énergie renouvelable. Quebec City.

Noise Impact

6. Will the wind turbines be noisy?
The perceived noise level of a wind turbine depends primarily on how close you are to the tower. For example, at the base of a wind turbine, the perceived noise level will be approximately 60 decibels (dBA). It is therefore entirely possible to have a normal conversation at the base of a wind turbine without having to raise your voice.  As you move farther away from the wind turbine, the perceived noise level drops.

It is important to note that wind turbines reach their maximum noise levels only when winds are high. As a result, other sources of noise (leaves rustling in trees, branches scraping against each other, etc.) will also be present and may make the wind turbine itself barely audible. When winds are low, the blades turn more slowly and therefore make less noise. The best way to see for yourself how much noise wind turbines make is to take a walk through a wind farm and listen.

7. What is the decibel A filter?
The decibel A filter represents the range of sounds perceived by the human ear. The scale ranges from 0 dBA (threshold of sound audible to the human ear) to approximately 130 dBA (threshold of pain). The following figure illustrates some everyday examples along the scale.

echelle_sonore_AN_final_réduit_faible

8. Is infrasound produced by wind turbines harmful?
No. Infrasound produced by wind turbines has been studied for many years by many researchers in many countries. The conclusions of all credible studies carried out in this area align with the statement issued by the Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ) in its September 2009 report: “[I]nfrasound produced by wind turbines does not appear to constitute a nuisance or a threat to the health of nearby residents.” [translation] So while wind turbines do produce infrasound, its intensity is not high enough to present a health risk to residents living near a wind farm.

Electromagnetic Fields

9. Do electromagnetic fields created by wind turbines represent a risk to human health?
No. The INSPQ’s conclusions on the potential health impact of electromagnetic fields created by wind turbines are clear: “Wind turbines themselves do not lead to health problems caused by electromagnetic fields.” [translation] This is primarily owing to the fact that the voltage produced by wind turbines is low. Moreover, the Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n Wind Farm is located in a relatively isolated forested area with no nearby residences. It should be noted as well that the collection network (electric wiring connecting the turbines) will be largely underground.

Ice throwing

10. Is ice throwing a potential hazard?
Signs will be installed in several areas throughout the wind farm warning local area users of the possibility of ice throws less than 300 m from wind turbines in weather conditions likely to lead to freezing rain. Given that there are relatively few people that enter the surrounding area and that there are no residences in close proximity to the wind turbines, it is assumed that the risk of accidents caused by ice throwing is practically nil.

General Questions

11. When you say that wind power is “green” are you taking into account the energy required for manufacturing, transportation, maintenance and dismantling?
The complete life cycle analysis for wind farm projects shows that they produce 34 times more energy than what is required for development, construction, maintenance and dismantling.

This is known as energy return on investment (EROI), and is what gives wind power a lot of advantages over other sources of energy.

12. Is it true that wind turbines only rotate 30% of the time?
No. Saying that wind turbines only operate 30% of the time is like saying the wind only blows 4 months of the year. In reality, wind farms in Quebec produce electricity more than 80% of the time. A wind turbine starts up when winds approach 12 km/h and stops when they exceed approximately 90 km/h. The 30% mentioned above represents the ratio between the energy actually produced and the energy that the wind turbine would have produced if it operated continuously at maximum capacity. This theoretical ratio (also called a usage factor) is used to provide an indication of a given wind farm’s average energy production.

13. Why is wind power considered a complement to hydro power?
Wind turbines and hydroelectric power plants complement each other mainly because reservoir water can be stocked up behind the dams while the wind turbines are producing energy and released when winds die down. See the Hydro-Québec website.

Earthquakes and Seismic Zones

14. Are wind turbines designed to be earthquake-resistant?
Yes. Engineers take into account seismic conditions (risk of earthquakes) as well as geological conditions (type of soil, sediment deposits, bedrock, etc.) when designing wind turbine foundations, in accordance with National Building Code (NBC) standards.

15. What is the level of earthquake activity in the project area?
Historically, very few earthquakes have been recorded in the Gaspé, and most were located below the St. Laurence River. More detailed information on historical seismicity in the region is available on the Natural Resources Canada website.