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Wind farms, distracted driving and high-performance homes

September 12, 2016 | By Anthony Capkun

Sundeep Gokhale, Patrick Ganley and Edward Snetsinger of Sherrard Kuzz LLP Photos A. Capkun.

“Where contractors and the industry work together”. That was the motto behind Ontario Electrical League’s 2016 annual conference, held outside of London, Ont., in the spring, and EBMag was there with notepad and camera in hand to record some of the action.

JOHN KIRBY is the director of wind operations at the Erie Shores wind farm, and he spoke to delegates about the maintenance nuances involved with keeping those big blades turning and producing electricity. In fact, they’ve used just about every piece of equipment that exists as part of their maintenance regimen, including buckets, cameras, spotting scopes, drones (UAVs) and rope access. The team uses vibration monitoring on the gearboxes to catch failures before they happen, and they’ve started using LIDAR (light detection and ranging) to better understand how the wind blows and, by extension, manage the turbine blades better. I think we often forget how tall these things can be; Kirby reminded us the wind blows quite differently from top to bottom. “The best-performing turbines in the wind farm industry operate around 40% of the time.”

DOUG TARRY of Doug Tarry Homes focused his discussion on “tight” homes, making them as energy-efficient as possible. “Balancing” the home with the correct heating and cooling is a real issue, he explained, made worse by customers (homeowners) who don’t understand mechanical systems… and why should they? “Make it easy for them. Set it and forget it,” he said. In a high-performance home, Tarry explained 3/4 of total energy expenditure is caused by its occupants, whereas 1/2 the energy load in a typical home is caused by space heating. He added he is very interested in home energy storage technologies for peak shaving.

Via role-playing, Sundeep Gokhale, Patrick Ganley and Edward Snetsinger of SHERRARD KUZZ LLP discussed what an owner must not do to his employees who may be organizing: TIPS, which stands for Threaten, Interrogate, Promise, Spy. Briefly, you cannot threaten your employees with statements like “If you organize, I will shut down the business and put everyone out of work”. You must not interrogate your employees to ascertain whether they’ve been thinking about organizing (or speaking with others about it), nor should you spy on who is chatting with whom. And you must not promise any particular actions to employees to keep them from organizing.


As part of the Transportation Panel, MAURO DI TULLIO of Federated Insurance discussed the nuances of insurance coverage: the options and enhancements you should consider, and where you simply must have good coverage. Meantime, BRIAN PEARCE of Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA) warned delegates that driver error is the major cause of 85% of all vehicle collisions and, these days, the biggest problem on our roads is distracted driving. Something to consider for yourself, and any technicians who drive your vehicles. 

Check out our Photo Gallery from this year’s conference, which includes photos from the conference and tradeshow, as well as the awards dinner. Ontario Electrical League is hosting its 2017 Electrical Industry Conference May 3-6, 2017, at the White Oaks in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

PHOTOS A. Capkun.

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