Zoning/Planning and Pennsylvania
Supervisors agreed Tuesday to vote at the Oct. 2 on a "wind energy facility ordinance." ...On Tuesday, solicitor R. James Kamage said that the township's proposed ordinance would give the township the ability to have input on the company's project. He added that the township cannot stop BP Alternative Energy, which is looking at leasing land from Deer Park Lumber, from building a wind turbine facility.
However, an ordinance would help the community better understand what the company is doing.
Development of wind power in northern Lycoming County took a potential step closer to reality Wednesday at the Lycoming County Planning Commission's meeting.
At that session the commission voted unanimously to recommend that the county commissioners approve an amendment to the county zoning ordinance that will allow electricity-generating wind turbines in so-called resource protection zones.
A series of nine meetings will be held by the state Bureau of Forestry to seek public input on changes to its master management plan charting the course of Pennsylvania's state forests for future generations.
A company interested in building 30 to 90 wind turbines in the southern part of Wyoming County is "encouraged" by test readings taken with a meteorological tower in Forkston Township.
BP Alternative Energy business developer Kevin Davis, who spoke during a Noxen supervisors meeting Wednesday about a wind turbine ordinance, said his company plans to put up additional testing towers in Forkston, Noxen and Eaton townships.
NOXEN TWP. - Supervisors agreed at a special meeting on Wednesday night to redraft a proposed wind-park ordinance including suggestions from a model submitted by BP Alternative Energy.
The company is considering installing a nearly 100-turbine generation site that would encompass several high ridges in Eaton, Noxen and Forkston townships and be routed onto the electrical grid through a transmission station in Mehoopany Township.
Though the company has discussed the topic with each municipality, all of which were "open to listening," according to BP Alternative Energy business developer Kevin Davis, the company has only faced public comment here because the township is considering the wind-park ordinance.
Carbon County planners are going over changes to Penn Forest Township's zoning ordinance that defines regulations for wind turbines.
Township supervisors are considering 22 rules dealing with the power-generating machines. Resident Paul Montemuro, who owns a beverage store in Albrightsville, in June told them he wants to put a 28-foot turbine on his property to cut down on heating and cooling costs, which he said total nearly $700 per month.
The changes include restricting the number of wind turbines to one per lot, barring advertising on them and requiring that any buildings or boundaries be a distance of 110 percent of the height of the turbine.
The changes, which also would require that turbines be dismantled after being inactive for a year, may be adopted after public hearings.
Noxen Township will hold a special meeting tonight to discuss changes suggested by BP Alternative Energy officials to a proposed wind park ordinance.
"BP's solicitor took our ordinance and picked it apart and told us what wouldn't stand up in a court of law. ... We already had an ordinance ready to be adopted. They came in and said they didn't like it and asked if they could make some changes," township Supervisor Carl Shook said. "They said this wouldn't stand up in the court of law, but we took this ordinance from another municipality that already went through this."
WINDBER - Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm and the proposed site of Shaffer Mountain Wind farm are just 15 miles apart.
But they seem worlds apart in community acceptance.
Both are projects by Gamesa Energy USA. They are on mountaintops, near watersheds and in communities where residents value quality of life.
There the similarities end.
Airtricity Inc., a renewable energy company, is planning a 52.5-MW wind farm in Somerset County, Pa., with an in-service date of second quarter 2009.
The company is working on getting permits, addressing geotechnical issues, and monitoring wind flow in developing the Stonycreek Wind Farm, said Doug Colbeck, Airtricity's vice president for Northeast development.
The wind facility will use General Electric Co. SLE 1.5-MW turbines with a hub height of 80 meters and a rotor diameter of 77 meters, Colbeck said.
"We've met with all the townships and agencies" that will be giving permission to build the wind farm, "and we'll continue to work with them to avoid permitting problems," Colbeck said.
The wind farm will be located across three townships - Shade, Stonycreek and Allegheny - each with different zoning ordinances for siting such facilities. Airtricity has not yet filed zoning applications with the townships.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has decided that only 2% of 2 million acres of state forestlands might be possible sites for commercial wind farms.
After looking at the state lands in the context of the department's mission to protect habitat and endangered species, and other issues, including whether there was enough wind, the department decided only 2% of the land could possibly be used for commercial wind farms, department spokeswoman Christina Novak said Aug. 14.
WELLSBORO - Discussion on wind turbines and countywide zoning again dominated at a meeting of the Tioga County commissioners Tuesday.
"You commissioners have said you want zoning input. I think there should be a public forum or discussion group on your Web site so people can post their comments without it being filtered by the newspapers or anyone else," said John Kesich of Millerton.
Those looking to harness wind in the borough will likely soon be facing new regulations.
Borough Council will hold a public hearing about changes to the zoning ordinance regarding the future locations of wind farms and windmills and their development. The hearing will be Monday at 5:45 p.m. in the Borough Building. After the hearing, Borough Council will vote on the amendment at its regular 6 p.m. meeting.
The state will hold a public hearing this month on a proposed wind plant in Bedford and Somerset counties.
Gamesa Energy USA is seeking a national pollutant discharge elimination system permit for its Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm project, state Department of Environmental Protection officials said.
The public hearing, set for 6 p.m. Aug. 28 at Shade-Central City High School in Shade Township, Somerset County, was set after residents sent more than 300 letters to the DEP asking for their voices to be heard.
The wind energy part of the ordinance is spelled out in great detail on six pages. It covers provisions for the application procedure required for any potential commercial enterprise. They include survey maps of the acreage, boundaries of the parcel, neighboring residences, schools, churches and other structures.Also required are standard drawings of the turbines, including the tower, base and footings, drawings of access roads, an engineering analysis and certification of the tower, showing compliance with the applicable building code.
Penn Forest Township supervisors voted Monday to send an ordinance that would allow a township resident to install wind turbines to the county and township planning commissions for review.
Paul Montemuro, who owns a beverage store in Albrightsville, wants to construct a 28-foot turbine on his property to cut down on heating and cooling costs, which he said total nearly $700 per month.
The turbine, which would have blades 7 feet long, must be set back at least 110 percent of its height from any existing structures. A 100-foot-tall turbine would have to be placed at least 110 feet away from homes and other nearby buildings.
''I think we should look into this a little bit more, don't you?'' asked Supervisor Judith Knappenberger, who questioned the turbine's size before voting ''yes'' to pass the ordinance along.
SHADE TOWNSHIP - Supervisors have refused to go on record opposing or supporting the controversial Shaffer Mountain wind farm project.
"These decisions are really hard to make," said Chairman John Topka during Thursday's meeting. "We sometimes can't make decisions based on what we feel."
The reason he and fellow supervisors Michael Custer and Henry Zubek said their neutrality involves future issues the township may face concerning wind energy companies.
WELLSBORO - Plans by the state to allow wind farms to build on all but 2 percent of state forest lands have been abandoned, according to a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources spokeswoman.
Chris Novak, agency director of communications, said Thursday that discussions had been ongoing but, because of efforts to attract people to the natural resources and develop ecotourism, the agency has pulled state forest lands in the 12-county area known as "The Wilds" out of the running.
"The Pennsylvania Wilds are off the table, along with all other state forest lands, except about two percent located in spots in the southcentral portions of the state, wherever there is adequate wind and ridge tops," said John Quigley, DCNR director of legislation and strategic initiatives.
PORTAGE - In an agreement hammered out between Portage Township and Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm owners, Washington Township will be reimbursed for money it spent on a survey of the Cambria/Blair county boundary line.
The $3,000 Portage Township will reimburse Washington indicates the good working relationship among localities in the Mainline, Ray Guzic, a Washington supervisor, said on Friday.
"I think I can speak for all three of the Washington supervisors and to Portage Township.
"We owe them a big thank-you," Guzic said.
The settlement, approved by Portage Township this week, should end a year-old boundary issue that surfaced after Portage officials said they were short-changed by Gamesa Energy USA developers of the wind farm. Three of the turbines are in Cambria County and two in Blair County.
LILLY - Portage and Washington townships - home to a growing number of wind turbines - want to amend their ordinances to regulate "personal" wind power.
As drafted, the plan focuses on smaller, backyard turbines, ones that a property owner might use to power a home, rather than generate income.
The concept is becoming common in some areas, Washington Township solicitor Thomas Swope III said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has set a public hearing on a controversial wind turbine project for 6 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Shade-Central City High School.
Opponents of the Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm, a 30-turbine wind project designed to extend through parts of Shade and Ogle townships in Somerset County, have been asking the DEP for a hearing for the last several months.
"This is one step in the right direction. This will give us a chance to learn more about the project and put our objections on record," said Laura Jackson, chairman of Save Our Allegheny Ridges, which is opposed to the facility.
DEP officials received more than 300 written requests, including ones from Shade Township supervisors and other community groups, according to a DEP statement.