Article

Somerset wind turbines seen as aviation hazard

The Federal Aviation Administration says that half of the 30 windmills proposed by Gamesa Energy USA for a controversial wind power project on an ecologically sensitive ridge area in Somerset County are a hazard to aviation. Opponents of the wind turbine project hope the FAA's preliminary finding will shut it down, but FAA officials say even a final determination would not stop the development.

The Federal Aviation Administration says that half of the 30 windmills proposed by Gamesa Energy USA for a controversial wind power project on an ecologically sensitive ridge area in Somerset County are a hazard to aviation.

Opponents of the wind turbine project hope the FAA's preliminary finding will shut it down, but FAA officials say even a final determination would not stop the development.

The project would be located in the watershed of two of the state's highest quality trout streams and along the Allegheny Front ridge, a major bird and bat migratory route, of Shaffer Mountain in the northeastern part of the county.

"It should be the end of the project, but I think Gamesa will call in some of its political clout to get the FAA to back off," said Jack Buchan, a member of Sensible Wind Solutions, which opposes the development.

Gamesa said the FAA findings won't affect the proposed project, which experienced delays in securing state permits for the 22,000-acre site. The state Department of Environmental Protection rejected Gamesa's first three permit applications as incomplete and is considering a fourth submission.

The FAA said that 15 of the 404-foot-tall wind turbines exceed "obstruction... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Federal Aviation Administration says that half of the 30 windmills proposed by Gamesa Energy USA for a controversial wind power project on an ecologically sensitive ridge area in Somerset County are a hazard to aviation.

Opponents of the wind turbine project hope the FAA's preliminary finding will shut it down, but FAA officials say even a final determination would not stop the development.

The project would be located in the watershed of two of the state's highest quality trout streams and along the Allegheny Front ridge, a major bird and bat migratory route, of Shaffer Mountain in the northeastern part of the county.

"It should be the end of the project, but I think Gamesa will call in some of its political clout to get the FAA to back off," said Jack Buchan, a member of Sensible Wind Solutions, which opposes the development.

Gamesa said the FAA findings won't affect the proposed project, which experienced delays in securing state permits for the 22,000-acre site. The state Department of Environmental Protection rejected Gamesa's first three permit applications as incomplete and is considering a fourth submission.

The FAA said that 15 of the 404-foot-tall wind turbines exceed "obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect" on the airspace above ridge or nearby airports and flight routes.

But Laura Brown, an FAA spokeswoman, said the presumed hazard determination is the first step in a give-and-take process between the FAA and the developer that could alter the height and location of the turbines.

Even a final FAA determination that a project is a hazard to aviation doesn't mean it won't be built because the FAA has no legal authority to stop any development, Ms. Brown said. But such a determination can make it hard for a development to get insurance coverage.

Gamesa was invited to the state by Gov. Ed Rendell in 2004 as part of a green jobs initiative. The company manufactures turbines in Ebensburg, Cambria County.

If all 30 turbines planned for the Shaffer Mountain project are built, they would have a maximum electric power generation capacity of 66 megawatts, enough to power 30,000 homes.


Source: http://www.post-gazette.com...

JAN 6 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23974-somerset-wind-turbines-seen-as-aviation-hazard
back to top