Library from Pennsylvania
Two Fayette County property owners who opposed a windmill project have reached a tentative agreement with the developer that will ensure the turbines are built at least 6,000 feet away from their homes. Eric Williams of Skyline Drive in Wharton said Thursday that he and another property owner, Larry Williams, expect to finalize the tentative deal with PPM Atlantic Renewable Energy Corp. by next week. Sam Enfield of PPM confirmed yesterday that a verbal agreement has been reached. The two property owners, who are not related, were seeking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by PPM.
Following action taken by the Mahanoy Township supervisors, nuisance laws, particularly in regard to dilapidated buildings, are becoming stricter. "We are amending our present ordinances to make them stricter. It is not fair to neighbors to have to live next door to these places," said Chairwoman Sharon Chiao following the meeting. She did not name specifics of the amendments. ...The supervisors agreed to approve the plans for Phase 2 of the Locust Ridge Wind Farm as soon as an agreement regarding the 12 proposed windmills is signed. Chiao said during the first phase, it took an extended amount of time and legal wrangling to come to an equitable agreement regarding the windmills. Chiao said after the meeting that during Phase 1, the township agreed to a stipend of $18,000 a year for the 12 windmills. This time they are seeking $23,000 a year for the 12 new windmills as costs continue to rise.
The owner of a 100-acre wind farm in Juniata Township, Blair County, and three townships in Cambria County has asked a judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by property owners complaining of noise and vibrations from the giant turbines. Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm LLC of Philadelphia said a court ruling in favor of a husband and wife complaining about the noise could "open the judicial floodgates to any neighbor to sue a wind farm after construction based on the wind farm's mere existence."
Supervisors adopted an ordinance that permits wind turbines as an exception and also adopted an ordinance that authorizes the tax collector to charge a fee for wage attachments when she collects delinquent per capita and occupational taxes. The wind turbine ordinance regulates the minimum height of the lowest position of the wind rotor at 25 feet above the ground, plus requires redundant braking systems and that wind mills must be at least 110 percent times the turbine height away from a structure or a neighboring property line.
A hearing on the appeal filed by the Tioga Preservation Group against the Tioga County Planning Commission's decision to grant a conditional approval to a 124-turbine wind farm project has not yet been scheduled, and it could be some time before any decision is made. And, no hearing will be scheduled soon, according to Ron Kamzelski, a member of the group that filed the appeal in Tioga County Court to change the decision about AES's project. "All the parties involved met with the judge in April so he could set ground rules and they agreed to prepare briefs in the case," Kamzelski said. ...[AES project director] White said the appeal still is in the court process but "has not caused us to stop moving forward."
"I kept looking at them the last couple weeks," he said. "They haven't been spinning." As energy company officials continue to eye Somerset County hillsides for potential tower sites, Walukas said, he wants some explanation for the ones standing still. "With all of the hubbub about getting them up and running I thought somebody should be looking into it," he said. The windmills Walukas said he sees standing idle are towers south of Meyersdale and ones near Garrett.
By the end of the 90-minute discussion, supervisors agreed to retain 45 decibels as the maximum permitted noise level, and developers dropped their objections to an additional scale measuring vibrations, with the maximum level set at 60 decibels. On another issue, supervisors kept in the proposal that wind turbines be at least 2,500 feet from a property line if an occupied structure is on the site, unless waived by the owner. But they also agreed that if there are no occupied structures on a property, then a wind turbine can be up to 1.5 times its height from the property line. The ordinance sets the maximum wind turbine height at 270 feet.
Eight Jackson Township residents have appealed a zoning permit approved for a commercial wind farm proposed in northern Lycoming County. The group - Frank Piccolella, Judi Piccolella, Walter Wroblewski, Gene Koonz, Dorothy Koonz, John E. Brucklacher Jr., Beverly Brucklacher and John E. Brucklacher III - signed their names to a single appeal involving Vermont-based Laurel Hill Wind Energy LLC's zoning permit application. The company applied for the permit to build more than 30 electricity-generating wind turbines on a seven-mile section of the Laurel Hill Ridge in Jackson and McIntyre townships.
The proposed construction of wind turbines on Fox Hill in Ulysses Township will have no noticeable affect on the dark skies at Cherry Springs according to a study released last Thursday by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. DCNR commissioned the study from an internationally respected lighting consultant - Clanton and Associates of Boulder, Colo. - after opponents of the wind power project and some amateur astronomers who use the park raised concerns that flashing red lights on top of the turbines could create light pollution that would diminish the quality of stargazing at the park.
Wind turbines are expected to shoot up in Haycock. In response to residents' requests, supervisors increased the allowed maximum height of the energy-harnessing wind turbines from 65 feet to 72 feet. Township officials plan to hash out the details at tonight's planning commission meeting. In recent months, supervisors have been working on an ordinance that would regulate wind turbines in the rural Upper Bucks township. ...Haycock officials say wind turbine proposals are on the way, and they are trying to put sound rules in place for governing them. Buckingham has already adopted a wind power ordinance that sets windmill heights at a maximum of 140 feet.
Juniata Township supervisors have signed a contract with a Vermont company to study pinpointing how much noise is created by the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm turbines. But how fast the study gets done may depend on the time residents take to complete survey forms documenting noise, followed by company personnel visiting the area based on weather forecasts. ...For more than a year, residents living near the wind turbines have complained about intermittent noise from the wind turbines, created under various weather conditions. Sixty people signed a petition asking for help.
The plaintiffs said that the township, in violation of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, passed an ordinance in December 2007 that seeks to ban mining in the township. "The Anti-Mining Ordinance has a substantial impact on interstate commerce because it has the effect of curbing the supply of coal, which is an important natural resource, at a time when demand for coal is growing substantially," said the plaintiffs. The lawsuit also said the ordinance violates the contracts and equal protection clauses, due process rights and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is also an illegal taking without adequate compensation, the plaintiffs contend.
In its meeting on Wednesday night, the Kidder Township Planning Commission voted to recommend that township supervisors table their discussion of amending zoning ordinances related to windmills, wind turbines and wind energy conversion systems until more questions can be answered. The amendments are required to approve a permit for David and Nancy Pfeil, owners of the Inn at Hickory Run, White Haven, who plan to erect a wind-powered turbine. ...Planning commission members admitted that they didn't have all the answers, but member Ellen Matt suggested that the Carbon County Conservation District be contacted by the applicant to provide more information about the impact of these structures on the environment.
Kidder Township's Planning Commission voted Wednesday to ask supervisors to postpone a hearing for a proposed windmill ordinance until planners can gather enough information to make a recommendation. The ordinance, which recently received a favorable recommendation from the Carbon County Planning Commission, would limit the number of wind turbines to one per property; set a minimum property size of 2 acres; and create a setback requirement of 110 percent of a windmill's height. ...Planner Charles Velzy asked whether the ordinance should allow turbines to be constructed in high- and medium-density residential areas, especially since the structures generally aren't well-received by neighbors.
A surcharge on electric bills in Delaware and surrounding states that was designed to increase generating capacity hasn't delivered on its promise, four states are arguing in a complaint filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The states of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania filed the complaint late Friday, together with a coalition of electricity buyers and consumer advocates. They say the surcharge will overcharge electricity consumers in the 13-state territory in the PJM Interconnection grid by $12 billion between 2008 and 2011. As a share of that, Delmarva Power ratepayers in Delaware will overpay by about $125 million in "unjust and unreasonable" rates, the states claim.
They're too noisy, too big and too clunky. And they kill bats and birds. Those are key criticisms about harnessing the wind and converting Mother Nature's fury into energy via a wind turbine, which might be better known as a windmill. Karl Douglass, an engineer with a degree from Drexel University, went about trying to remedy those complaints and he believes he's done that. Sometime this summer, his Omniwind Energy Systems of Dublin in Central Bucks will begin production on a wind turbine that he says is quiet, relatively compact and environmentally friendly. ..."You wouldn't even have seen windmills in Pennsylvania not long ago, but still it's a small amount in the overall scheme," Wood added. "Solar, wind, biomass are nice, but they're a niche, they only fulfill a small percentage of our needs."
With a recent state Supreme Court ruling in its favor, Energy Unlimited believes its windpark project proposed for Penobscot Mountain is headed forward, but the Bear Creek Township solicitor says a previous court decision has already doomed the project. On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court denied a petition from a citizens group opposed to the project that challenged a township zoning board ruling. The ruling essentially cemented the company's assertion that the site near Crystal Lake "is generally a good place to put a wind farm," said Ed Schoener, a consultant on the project. ...The company's original land plan was rejected with about two dozen conditions the company had to satisfy. Before the company could submit a revised plan, the township passed a stricter windpark ordinance and said the company's new plan would be required to follow the new ordinance. The company argued the new ordinance made its plan impossible.
Franklin Township supervisors adopted a zoning ordinance amendment that permits wind turbines as a special exception making the requirements simpler for residents who want to have some of their homes power provided by a windmill. ...The windmills must be equipped with a redundant braking system and mechanical brakes. They will not be allowed to show advertising and must have reflectors on guy wires up to 10 feet from the ground. Applicants should not disrupt radio or television signals. The building for storage cells must not be more than 150 square feet or be taller than 15 feet. Only property where the wind is harnessed may use the energy.
A decision by the Fayette County commissioners to intervene in a lawsuit about a proposed wind turbine project and how the proceeds of the impending hotel tax will be distributed dominated public comment during Thursday's monthly meeting. Numerous people wearing "Fayette TNT, Trees Not Turbines" shirts spoke to the commissioners to express concern about a decision by Commissioners Vincent Zapotosky and Angela M. Zimmerlink to intervene in the case that involves appeal of denial that would have allowed construction of 18 wind-powered turbines in Georges and Springhill townships.
Stepanoff has requested Haycock allow him to install an 80-foot tall wind turbine - basically, a modern windmill - on his property. ..."Zoning in the 1970s was amended to add wind energy systems, and you could probably find some that have those provisions," said Lynn Bush, executive director of the Bucks County Planning Commission. "I think we were kind of lulled into thinking that energy would always be cheap and those ordinances were removed because nobody used them, so we have fewer of those ordinances around." Haycock's ordinance bans structures taller than 35 feet.