Library filed under Energy Policy from Pennsylvania
Virginia may have given a controversial power line an initial "yes," but Pennsylvania has given it an initial "no." In a ruling released late Thursday, regulatory judges in Pennsylvania recommended that the state's Public Utilities Commission deny applications from Allegheny Power and Dominion Virginia power to build the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line. A hearing examiner for the Virginia State Corporation Commission has recommended approval for the controversial power line, but only on the condition that West Virginia and Pennsylvania also sign off on the plan.
Up to 35 electricity-generating wind turbines are to be built along seven miles of the Laurel Hill ridge in Jackson and McIntyre townships in northern Lycoming County, under the plans of Vermont-based Laurel Hill Wind Energy. On Tuesday, the commission reviewed the plan in detail. "The work session was held to delve into the plan and make sure all our questions are answered," said Kurt Hausammann Jr., commission executive director. "A plan of this scale warranted a separate meeting."
Now, there are people who think it may be a good idea to build wind turbines on the Kittatinny Ridge (Blue Mountain). On Monday, a letter to the editor from Donald Heintzelman of Zionsville talked about the first such proposal. Lower Towamensing Township, he noted, is considering a request to put windmills around the Blue Mountain Ski Area. Heintzelman said that would place them in the path of America's most spectacular migratory route for eagles, hawks and other raptors. "As an ornithologist involved in raptor migrations ... I am unconditionally opposed to the installation of all wind turbines on this internationally famous ... migration corridor," he wrote. I am unconditionally opposed to it for other reasons, as well.
Four windmills may line a portion of the horizon near the Allegheny and Stonycreek townships border by the end of 2009. At their meeting on Monday, township supervisors said that Airtricity Inc., of Connecticut, plans to construct a farm of between 20 and 30 windmills in Allegheny, Stonycreek and Shade townships. During the meeting, the supervisors reviewed a sketch plan of part of the farm drawn by Musser Engineering Inc., of Central City. The four windmills planned in Allegheny Township are to be built on property owned by the New Baltimore Sportsman's Club.
The final round of hearings begin this week over the controversial high-voltage power line proposal that Allegheny Energy will attempt to prove is vitally important for Southwestern Pennsylvania. As many as 26 expert witnesses are expected to testify during the three-week long technical evidentiary hearings, which will debate the need for the project and explain the routing of the line. ...These evidentiary hearings are one of the final steps before PUC administrative law judges Mark A. Hoyer and Michael A. Nemec make their recommendation to the commission in the summer. The commission is then expected in September to approve, reject or alter the proposal. "I think the residents continue to feel as though they're under attack," Nicholl said. "This is a long and exhausting process, and the stress is very high."
What's good for communications towers should be good for wind turbines, which can be 200 feet tall. ...Already the largest wind producer east of the Mississippi River, and with an ambitious goal of increasing wind power in the state 20-fold, Pennsylvania has a special obligation to ensure that each proposed wind farm is subject to environmental review. Such analysis must reject sites that are likely to lead to significant fatalities for birds and bats. The sooner such a scientifically based process is in place, the sooner the state will have a set of rules by which wind developers can proceed on projects with greater predictability.
The winds of change soon may be blowing in Lycoming County. Vermont-based Laurel Hill Wind Energy LLC plans to submit an application to the county to build a commercial electricity-generating wind farm on the Laurel Hill Ridge in Jackson and McIntyre townships. The application will be submitted within days to county zoning administrator to Fred G. Pfeiffer, Robert Charlebois, managing director of parent company Catamount Energy Corp. of Rutland, Vt., said Wednesday. The company proposed the project about four years ago.
The initial wave of windmill farms in Pennsylvania has focused on the state's famed ridge tops, where blowing winds are strongest and most frequent. This is an attempt to maximize the ability of individual windmills and farms to produce energy, which doubtless translates into the best ecnomic model. That is unitl you start counting the cost of litigation to deal with the growing opposition to clearing Pennsylvania's signature landscape and creating a "scenery" laced with windmills. And it likely doesn't hold up if you add up the lost forests and vegetation that is sacrificed in the process of clearing acres of trees for the turbines and the roads necessary to build and service them. Add in the carbon emissions associated with manufacturing, transporting and servicing windmills, and there is a carbon cost of some magnitude. We just don't know what that is and there is no evidence to indicate that the Rendell administration has done its homework to establish what that contribution is, or if it even wants to know.
On Capitol Hill, the Audubon Society is leading the fight to increase production of climate-friendly power. So why are Audubon enthusiasts battling a wind farm that could help meet that goal? For one thing, there are trout in nearby streams, which activists say are at risk from chemical and sediment runoff from construction of 30 turbines, each soaring about 400 feet -- taller than the Statue of Liberty. Then there are the bats and hawks, which might be puréed by the giant blades that would catch the wind gusting along the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. "They're enormous," says Tom Dick, a retired veterinarian who founded the local Audubon chapter. "When you start looking at this, it's like, 'hell, this is not right.'"
Citizens fill every seat Thursday in the Commissioners Board Room as Lycoming County Commissioners vote on zoning changes for proposed wind farms. Depending on your point of view, an amendment to the county zoning ordinance pertaining to wind energy is a step toward energy independence or a threat to the preservation of the county's wilderness and scenic beauty. The Lycoming County commissioners Thursday unanimously approved the amendment, which will allow electricity-generating wind turbines by right in resource protection, countryside and agricultural zoning districts.
The business community by and large opposes Rendell's plan saying it smacks too much of government mandate and letting public officials pick which businesses will be "winners" in the race to build new green technology, Barr said [an official with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry]. "I think we have to be cautious about government betting on a technology that may not be viable in 10 to 15 years," he added.
As with all new development, there needs to be proper guidelines and regulations that best serve the needs of residents, industry and the environment. That's a daunting task for any agency, especially when you factor in new types of massive developments and changes in technology. It's a good idea for the commission to review the policies impacted by wind turbine development.
Why don't we just admit that there is an energy crisis in the world and set about finding real solutions to our problems? Many of those opposed to wind energy development in Pennsylvania would drop their opposition, if wind energy were a serious approach to global warming and energy deficits. ...Unregulated wind turbine placement will lead us to massive deforestation and environmental damage, with energy benefits so small as to make a mockery of the entire approach.
A Press Conference has been scheduled for 12 noon on Monday September 17, 2007 in the rotunda of the Capitol in Harrisburg to protest the statewide push by the Rendell Administration to turn hundreds of miles of Pennsylvania's forested ridge tops into industrial wind facilities. Groups from across the state will be addressing the various concerns that wind power facilities pose to Pennsylvania's wild areas, wildlife, tourism, historical resources, and viewscapes.
...the expected generating capacity of wind farms during heat waves -- when ozone alerts are more likely to occur and would be most serious -- is probably going to be far lower than their summertime average. AN OFTEN-POSED rhetorical question asks if "smokestacks" are preferable to wind farms -- a false choice. Thousands more wind turbines are coming, yet smokestacks will persist and likely increase in number. Wind turbines will not qualify as credible substitutes for building future power plants since they cannot be counted on to produce electricity when needed. They also will not result in the retirement of any existing power plant given the ever-increasing growth in demand for electricity in our region.
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.
The Pennsylvania Biological Survey has gone to bat for the bats in a swirling policy debate over whether commercial wind power development should be permitted in state forests. The debate pits advocates of wind power as an alternative energy source against those who fear that windmills are harmful to bats and birds.
Gov. Ed Rendell, who has been outspoken on the need to limit emissions of global warming gases, has not delivered on a promise to come up with his own strategy for Pennsylvania. Administration spokesmen would give no reason for the delay, other than to say a plan is still being worked on.
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.
A fight over renewable energy and biofuels led to a temporary shutdown of Pennsylvania's state government and, despite a compromise being reached, the opponents will resume battle in September. At issue is Governor Edward Rendell's energy independence strategy to promote renewables, energy conservation and biofuels. The Democratic governor hoped to fund an $850 million effort through a surcharge of 0.05 cents/kWh on utility bills, but Republican Senate leaders who oppose taxes resisted the idea. They also objected to measures requiring utilities to opt for conservation and renewables when customer load grows. And they opposed requiring utilities to install 'smart' meters that allow customers to see time-of-day prices and cut usage accordingly.