This page contains answers to questions Northland Power is often asked about solar.
- Why are you building this project?
- Why is the project being built in this location?
- Does the project require environmental approval?
- How long will construction take?
- Will the project increase traffic in the area?
- Will the project produce emissions?
- Will the project create noise or vibrations?
- Will the project require new high-voltage power lines?
- Will you be asking the residents for input?
- When is the next meeting about the project?
- How can I ask questions or make comments?
- What impacts will the project have on the natural environment? How will these effects be mitigated?
- Will the project impact water quality?
- Will the project impact groundwater quality or quantity? Will my well be impacted?
- Will the project impact my property value?
- How loud will the project be?
- Will I be able to see the project?
- Will there be glare off of the solar modules?
- Are there any health impacts associated with solar projects? What about electromagnetic fields?
- What happens when the project is no longer required?
- Why was detailed information on the project not available at the first public meeting?
- Will the security cameras impact my privacy?
1. Why are you building this project?
A: The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is responsible for ensuring the long-term electricity supply for Ontario. The province also has a strategy to focus on environmentally friendly energy sources. Solar power projects are seen as a way to achieve both goals. The IESO has invited Northland and any other energy company to propose solar projects that fit its requirements. This project was proposed to the IESO by Northland, and the IESO selected it as a project it would contract for under the feed-in tariff program.
2. Why is the project being built in this location?
A: The site addresses the IESO’s strict land use concerns and is located close to main power distribution system lines. From Northland’s perspective, it is flat and accessible as a construction site.
3. Does the project require environmental approval?
A: Yes. Northland has commenced the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process as required under Ontario Regulation 359/09 and the Environmental Protection Act. Other permits will be obtained as required by law. Please see the project description report for more information.
5. Will the project increase traffic in the area?
A: During construction, there will be some heavy equipment, truck and car traffic to and from the site. Please see the project description report for preliminary information on the construction process. More information will be available once the construction report is complete and available to the public. Once the facility is operating, there will be minimal traffic, as the site will not have on-site, full-time staff.
7. Will the project create noise or vibrations?
A: Solar power generation produces minimal noise and/or vibrations. All Northland ground-mounted solar facilities are designed to meet strict noise requirements and to comply with all local noise bylaws. Vehicles and equipment will produce some daytime noise during construction.
8. Will the project require new high-voltage power lines?
A: The project will require a new 44 kV line to connect to the Hydro One distribution system. Please see the project description report and project map for detailed information.
9. Will you be asking the residents for input?
A: Yes. We will engage in an open, honest and accommodating dialogue with any interested members of the local community. Early in the process, as part of the environmental assessment, we will be asking your community how best to consult.
10. When is the next meeting about the project?
A: All notices and events are posted on this site. For more information, please see the notices posted in the Information Centre.
11. How can I ask questions or make comments?
A: You can ask questions or provide comments through our questions/comments page. Northland Power will also be hosting two community information open houses where you can speak with members of our team about the project. As we gather community feedback, we will listen for other ways to ensure every voice is heard.
12. What impacts will the project have on the natural environment? How will these effects be mitigated?
A: In order to obtain a Renewable Energy Approval (REA), detailed environmental studies of natural features (wildlife habitat, woodlands, wetlands, valley lands) and water bodies on and surrounding the project site are required. Through these studies, the existing environmental characteristics of a given project location are identified.
Once the existing environment is characterized, the effects of the project can be determined and mitigation measures identified to limit any negative effects. This work has been completed and the results are included in the Natural Heritage Assessment reports, the Water Body reports, and the Construction Plan Report that will be available for public review both on-line and in the local municipality at least 60 days prior to the second public meeting.
As part of the prescribed REA process, these reports are submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) for their review and then are to be made available for review by the public. The MNR review process is currently underway, and Northland is waiting for the prescribed confirmation letters from the MNR.
13. Will the project impact water quality?
A: Solar modules (also referred to as panels) will not be located within 30 m of the high water mark of any watercourse. Furthermore, mitigation measures (such as sediment and erosion control) are identified in the Water Body reports and Construction Plan Report to ensure that the installation of the solar modules does not impact water quality. Apart from these installation considerations, Northland and Hatch have not identified any evidence that indicates crystalline modules used in utility scale solar farms negatively impact local water quality once they are installed.
The Water Body and Construction Plan report will be available for public review at least 60 days prior to the second public meeting.
14. Will the project impact groundwater quality or quantity? Will my well be impacted?
A: No groundwater wells will be installed on the project site. Any water required for construction and operations will be brought in from offsite sources.
Potential impacts to groundwater quality and quantity are addressed within the Construction Plan Report that will be available for public review 60 days prior to the second public meeting.
15. Will the project impact my property value?
A: There is no evidence to suggest that an impact on property value occurs as a result of proximity to solar energy projects. Solar projects have no emissions and a low height profile, and as such, have a relatively minor visual impact on adjacent properties. Northland Power is gathering suggestions from neighbouring landowners on ways to mitigate the impact of the project. Suggestions have been provided to Northland through direct conversation, at public meetings, through comment cards and via email. Northland continues to welcome suggestions through these and other channels.
16. How loud will the project be?
A: Solar modules do not emit any noise. Any noise emitted from the project will be generated by the inverters and transformers alone. The majority of the “solar power” equipment shuts down at night when no power is being generated, and therefore there would be no noise emissions from those sources at that time.
As part of the REA process, a noise study is completed in order to determine the noise levels at nearby receptors. The project must be designed and constructed to ensure that noise levels at the receptors meet the Ontario Ministry of the Environment requirement of 40 dbA. A 40 dbA sound level is the equivalent of a quiet room, while a normal conversation at a 3-ft distance produces a 60 to 70 dbA sound level. This level of noise would not impact one’s ability to hear other desired sounds such as the wind rustling through the leaves on a tree, singing birds, crickets, or someone walking up your driveway. Anecdotal evidence from neighbours of a solar power facility within Ontario suggests that noise from the project site is not a concern.
The Noise Study Report will be available for public review at least 60 days prior to the second public meeting.
17. Will I be able to see the project?
A: Depending on the project, portions of the site (solar modules, fencing, transformer station) may be visible from adjacent areas. Through the public meetings, Northland is gathering information from neighbouring landowners in order to identify potential concerns related to visual impacts as well as possible mitigation measures. If visual mitigation is proposed, it will be identified within the Design and Operations Report that will be available for public review at least 60 days prior to the second public meeting.
18. Will there be glare off of the solar modules?
A: A special coating is applied to the solar modules in order to increase absorption of solar energy and minimize light reflection. This will minimize the impact that reflections from the modules will have on the neighbouring residents or passing motorists/air traffic. Having said that, some reflection is anticipated but it is not expected to materially impact neighbouring properties.
19. Are there any health impacts associated with solar projects? What about electromagnetic fields?
A: There are no known health impacts associated with solar projects. In fact, the use of solar energy will contribute to the province’s ability to retire coal fired power plants, and thus will contribute to the improvement of air quality throughout the province.
Concerns around electromagnetic fields generally reside with high voltage transmission lines. These types of power lines are not associated with Northland solar projects. Power generated by the project will be connected to the existing local electrical distribution network, which provides electrical service to the surrounding area residences. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that there are no substantive health issues related to extremely low frequency fields, such as those that will be generated by this project, at levels generally encountered by members of the public. Further, the WHO concluded that transformer stations were found to rarely produce significant electric fields outside their perimeter.
20. What happens when the project is no longer required?
A: Northland will decommission the project once it is no longer required, and will restore the lands consistent with the present uses. A Decommissioning Plan report will be available at least 60 days in advance of the second public meeting.
21. Why was detailed information on the project not available at the first public meeting?
A: The REA Regulation (Ontario Regulation 359/09) requires a public meeting be held shortly after the project is initiated, to be sure that the public becomes aware of the project early in the design stage. As a result, detailed information on the project, such as the exact location of solar modules/inverters, was not available at the time of the first public meeting since design of the facility is ongoing.
Detailed information on the project will be contained within the project reports that will be available for public review, both on-line and in the local municipality, at least 60 days prior to the second public meeting. These reports will address environmental matters, as well as construction, design, operational, and decommissioning plans for the project. Information from these reports will be presented at the second public meeting.
22. Will the security cameras impact my privacy?
A: Security cameras may be installed as part of the project in order to ensure the protection of equipment installed on the project site. Security cameras will be directed such that they do not have views of neighbouring residences. No impact on privacy of adjacent landowners is anticipated and appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the privacy of all neighbours is respected.