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Wind farm fans local debate

Opponents and supporters of a proposed wind farm in Centre and Blair counties used a public hearing Monday night to express their opinions about the turbines Gamesa Energy USA wants to build. The state Department of Environment Protection held the hearing specifically to take testimony on the national pollution discharge elimination system permit it handles. But, the limited topic did not stop those who spoke from commenting more generally about Gamesa's proposed Sandy Ridge Wind Farm.

WORTH TOWNSHIP - Opponents and supporters of a proposed wind farm in Centre and Blair counties used a public hearing Monday night to express their opinions about the turbines Gamesa Energy USA wants to build.

The state Department of Environment Protection held the hearing specifically to take testimony on the national pollution discharge elimination system permit it handles. But, the limited topic did not stop those who spoke from commenting more generally about Gamesa's proposed Sandy Ridge Wind Farm.

"This land that we're talking about is of exceptional conservation value," said Stan Kotala, a member of the Moshannon Group of the Sierra Club.

He suggested the project be built on a strip mine, rather than on Ice Mountain, an important bird area and one with exceptional value watersheds.

"Why should we put this at risk when there are many more suitable sites," he said.

Gwen McAllister, one of the Taylor Township residents who is leasing land to Gamesa for the turbines, said she is excited about the project.

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"I'm excited to have an eco-friendly opportunity, to have something green come into this area," she said.

She was one of three project supporters to speak during the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

WORTH TOWNSHIP - Opponents and supporters of a proposed wind farm in Centre and Blair counties used a public hearing Monday night to express their opinions about the turbines Gamesa Energy USA wants to build.

The state Department of Environment Protection held the hearing specifically to take testimony on the national pollution discharge elimination system permit it handles. But, the limited topic did not stop those who spoke from commenting more generally about Gamesa's proposed Sandy Ridge Wind Farm.

"This land that we're talking about is of exceptional conservation value," said Stan Kotala, a member of the Moshannon Group of the Sierra Club.

He suggested the project be built on a strip mine, rather than on Ice Mountain, an important bird area and one with exceptional value watersheds.

"Why should we put this at risk when there are many more suitable sites," he said.

Gwen McAllister, one of the Taylor Township residents who is leasing land to Gamesa for the turbines, said she is excited about the project.

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"I'm excited to have an eco-friendly opportunity, to have something green come into this area," she said.

She was one of three project supporters to speak during the hearing, which was held at the Fraternal Order of Police Bald Eagle Lodge 51 and attracted a small crowd. Six opponents gave testimony. People on both sides asked questions and made comments during a presentation and question and answer session Gamesa and DEP representatives held before the hearing.

Michelle Barbin, of Snow Shoe, asked if samples had been taken to look for pyrite.

"This area is still reeling from I- 99," she said, referring to the costly clean-up project stemming from construction of Interstate 99.

David Garg, the DEP official who ran the meeting and hearing, said that issue was raised in a DEP deficiency letter to the company. A Gamesa engineer said the company understands that issue and is studying it.

The proposed wind farm would have 25 turbines in Snyder Township, Blair County, and neighboring Taylor Township in Centre County. The turbines would be 475 feet high.

According to Gamesa, the project would bring $250,000 to the area annually, including money to the townships and property owners. Snyder and Taylor townships will each get $3,000 a year per turbine, with nine of the turbines planned for Taylor Township and the rest on Ice Mountain in Snyder Township on land that Tyrone owns.

Representatives of the Little Juniata River Association also testified, saying tree clearing, road building and ground movement could have a negative impact on the streams, particularly Big Fill Run.

During its presentation, Gamesa officials talked about the steps the company would take to protect the area's land and water, including avoiding encroachment on all wetlands.

Gamesa is also in the process of seeking clearance for part of the project from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA found six of the 25 proposed turbines to be "presumed hazards" while giving "favorable determinations" to the other 19. According to Gamesa, the company has submitted an analysis of the six turbines to FAA and they are under review.


Source: http://www.centredaily.com/...

NOV 24 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/23260-wind-farm-fans-local-debate
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