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Wind Wanted: Firm eyes 18-acre facility in Centre, Blair counties

...environmentalists already have voiced concerns about what they say are the negative effects of fragmenting the forestland. Stan Kotala, president of the Juniata Valley Audubon Society, said Ice Mountain in Blair County, where part of the project would be built, is unique because it has a large expanse of unbroken forest. That interior forest is favored by some species including the bobcat, fisher and scarlet tanager, Kotala said. The county Planning Commission's Natural Heritage Inventory designated the area a natural heritage area, he said. "We just feel that it should be protected," he said. Gary Thornbloom, chairman of the Sierra Club Moshannon Group, said the biggest concern is where the wind industry is putting its projects.

If Gamesa Energy USA's plans go through, the company will convert wind blowing across part of Taylor Township to energy as early as the end of 2009

Joshua Framel, project developer in Gamesa's Philadelphia office, described the company's plan for the Sandy Ridge Wind Farm to the Centre County Planning Commission Tuesday night. The farm would have 25 two-megawatt windmills, with about 35 percent of the project in Taylor Township in Centre County and 65 percent in neighboring Snyder Township, Blair County, Framel said.

The project is still in its preliminary stages, and the company has not yet submitted a proposal to the Centre County planning office. Planning Commission approval for a subdivision and land development plan would be needed.

Framel said plans include putting seven to nine of the windmills - which reach 404 feet into the air when a blade is at its peak - in Taylor Township. Each windmill could generate enough electricity in a year to power 600 homes and costs more than $2 million to build, he said.

Framel said environmental assessments already are under way, including a spring migratory study that found the area is not a major migratory route. About 1 acre of land is disturbed for... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

If Gamesa Energy USA's plans go through, the company will convert wind blowing across part of Taylor Township to energy as early as the end of 2009

Joshua Framel, project developer in Gamesa's Philadelphia office, described the company's plan for the Sandy Ridge Wind Farm to the Centre County Planning Commission Tuesday night. The farm would have 25 two-megawatt windmills, with about 35 percent of the project in Taylor Township in Centre County and 65 percent in neighboring Snyder Township, Blair County, Framel said.

The project is still in its preliminary stages, and the company has not yet submitted a proposal to the Centre County planning office. Planning Commission approval for a subdivision and land development plan would be needed.

Framel said plans include putting seven to nine of the windmills - which reach 404 feet into the air when a blade is at its peak - in Taylor Township. Each windmill could generate enough electricity in a year to power 600 homes and costs more than $2 million to build, he said.

Framel said environmental assessments already are under way, including a spring migratory study that found the area is not a major migratory route. About 1 acre of land is disturbed for each windmill, he said. The project, including roadways, would mean about 18 acres of disturbed land in Centre County.

But environmentalists already have voiced concerns about what they say are the negative effects of fragmenting the forestland.

Stan Kotala, president of the Juniata Valley Audubon Society, said Ice Mountain in Blair County, where part of the project would be built, is unique because it has a large expanse of unbroken forest. That interior forest is favored by some species including the bobcat, fisher and scarlet tanager, Kotala said.

The county Planning Commission's Natural Heritage Inventory designated the area a natural heritage area, he said.

"We just feel that it should be protected," he said.

Gary Thornbloom, chairman of the Sierra Club Moshannon Group, said the biggest concern is where the wind industry is putting its projects.

"A lot of the ridge tops are unbroken stands of forest. Those are the most valuable forestlands in Pennsylvania," Thornbloom said.

Framel said Gamesa knows not all sites are appropriate for a wind farm and carefully studies potential project areas. The company works with the conservation districts and the state Department of Environmental Protection on the projects, he said.

"Gamesa really does it's homework on a project," he said Wednesday. "We take into account the wildlife in the area, the watershed and other concerns and do some very involved studies."

Richard Beckwith, chairman of the Taylor Township board of supervisors, said he doesn't have see anything wrong with the project and hasn't heard anything negative from the public.

"I can't understand why there's such an uproar about windmills," he said.

Gamesa usually leases most of the property where the windmills go and pays the landowners about $6,000 a windmill a year, Framel confirmed. The company typically pays the townships where the wind farms are built about $3,000 a year per windmill in lieu of property taxes.

The leases last about 30 years. The company puts up a bond at the beginning of the project to pay to decommission the windmills if, at the end of the project, operations aren't continued.

Framel told the Centre County Planning Commission that if "all the stars align" the wind farm could be operational by the end of 2009.

Gamesa is headquartered in Spain and bills itself as the second largest wind-energy manufacturer in the country. Framel said sometimes Gamesa owns and operates the wind farms and other times an investor does, but Gamesa is still involved in operations.

Anne Danahy can be reached at 231-4648.

 


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

DEC 20 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/12474-wind-wanted-firm-eyes-18-acre-facility-in-centre-blair-counties
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