Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Pennsylvania
The Lycoming County Planning Commission postponed a decision Thursday on whether to recommend an amendment to the county zoning ordinance to significantly change where electricity generating wind turbines may be built. Planning Commission staff had put together an amendment that, if approved by the county commissioners, would allow wind turbines in resource protection and agriculture districts by right and in countryside districts by special exception granted by the county zoning hearing board.
Two more wind turbine developments will be built in Somerset County this fall. Edison Mission Group of Irvine, Calf., is in the process of erecting two wind developments: one in Shade Township and one in Brothersvalley and Northampton townships, Charley Parnell, Edison Mission spokesman said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "The turbines plan to be erected hopefully sometime between September and November," he said. Eighteen turbines will be included on the Lookout WindPower site, which lies east of state Route 160 in Brothersvalley and Northampton townships. Workers have been clearing trees and brush at the site for several weeks, Parnell said. The wind farm will be stocked with larger 2.1-megawatt turbines, giving it the ability to produce 37.8 megawatts of electricity. "The height of each turbine will be approximately 400 feet from the ground to the tip of the blade," Parnell said. He said the turbines are similar in size to those already in the county.
NOXEN TWP. - Within a few years, South Mountain's 2,330-foot profile in Wyoming County could grow a few hundred feet if an international energy company goes through with a wind turbine park project it's considering. Representatives from BP Alternative Energy, part of the former British Petroleum, have discussed the idea with county and local officials to construct as many as 90 turbines on the site, which encompasses more than 100,000 acres. Wind-gauging anemometers are being installed to study the usability of the wind resources. According to state wind maps, wind potential in that area just barely reaches a level considered viable for energy production.
OGLE TOWNSHIP - Local conservation groups are working to document the health of a number of streams that face potential impact from both future wind turbine and mining projects...... Shortly after, the first of 192 fish was scooped out of the water, stunned by the electrical pulse emitted by Kagel's rig. Among the catch were 21 trout, some so small they were indicative of natural reproduction, said Reckner, the program director for the stream team. Finding that sections of Piney and Cub Run sustain the natural reproduction of trout species has led to them being classified as exceptional-value by the state.
GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Apple trees have been planted, wood fences restored and power lines buried in recent years to transform the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg to the way it looked when Union and Confederate forces clashed on farmers' fields in 1863. But preservationists now worry that the national military park in Pennsylvania's picturesque fruit belt soon may be in the shadow of high-powered transmission lines. It is not just Gettysburg that worries them as a result of a 2005 law that gave federal regulators new authority over where power lines are built. They fear the law could place hundreds of national and state parks and other protected sites in the Northeast and Southwest in or near the path of massive power lines.
About 220 people recently attended a presentation in Troy on the Armenia Mountain Wind Farm planned for Bradford and Tioga (Pa.) counties. Robert J. White, the vice president of AES Armenia Mountain Wind, LLC, the company planning the project, said the event was held at Memorial Auditorium last month. He said a question-and-answer session followed the project presentation, and people had a lot of questions. He said the question-and-answer session lasted from a half-hour to 45 minutes. He said that some questions regarded the impact of the project on birds and property values. Right now, studies are being done.
Officials from two townships splitting the Cambria-Blair county line may not be in total agreement about boundaries. But the question - at least as far as two wind turbines and their royalties are concerned - is being put to rest, officials said. Gamesa Energy USA, developers of the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money to Juniata Township, Blair County, for the two windmills in question. In return, the township will not contest a land survey putting the structures in Portage Township.
Gamesa's guest column last week, written by their corporate spokesman, Michael Peck, is an example of spin, half-truths and out and out untruths that Gamesa has tried to use to promote its proposed Shaffer Mountain wind plant. Gamesa starts out by referring to those opposing the Shaffer Mountain wind plant as "anti-wind advocates." Nothing could be further from the truth.
Wind turbines are supposed to be a cleaner form of energy designed to keep the air clear, but some residents near Shaffer Mountain by the Somerset, Bedford County line argue, the wind farm will actually destroy the environment. Now their voices are being heard.
An Oregon-based company on Wednesday temporarily withdrew its zoning application to erect wind turbines in two Fayette County townships until its engineers review the project. PPM Atlantic Renewable Energy has been seeking a special-exception permit from the county's zoning hearing board to install a wind-powered facility for electricity generation in Georges and Springhill on properties zoned agricultural. The company is based in Portland, Ore., but has an office in Perryopolis. PPM Atlantic applied for a permit to construct 12 turbines in those two townships, but the entire project is estimated to include 20 to 25 windmills in three municipalities, including Wharton Township.
TROY - The 300 people who came out to see what all the fuss was about concerning a proposed wind farm project for Armenia Mountain had mixed reactions to the proposal. AES, a global energy company headquartered in Arlington, Va., presented the plan for up to 79 300 to 400-foot wind turbines on 9,000 acres of leased property in both Tioga and Bradford counties to the people of Bradford County Tuesday at the high school here.
How did Gamesa Corporation, a wind-energy company from Spain, find Shaffer Mountain, a small section of the Allegheny Front in Pennsylvania, which lies in Somerset and Bedford counties? Although we do not know all the details, we do know in 2004, that Gov. Rendell and Kathleen McGinty, secretary of Department of Environmental Protection, enticed Gamesa to abandon plans to build in Texas, by promising Gamesa that it would receive millions of dollars in grants, loans, and tax credits, financed with taxpayers' money. Federal income tax shelters will allow Gamesa to avoid paying taxes owed and thereby recover two-thirds of the capital cost of each turbine - about $2 million each. We also know that Gamesa has received tax-free status through 2018 by locating on land that is a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone. Even before Gamesa started construction in our state, the company had purchase agreements and letters of intent to sell 400 megawatts worth of wind-generated power to Pennsylvania utilities. But how did Gamesa find Shaffer Mountain? It's simple: Shaffer Mountain has wind.
For Jackson Township resident Walt Wroblewski, Thursday night's Lycoming County Planning Commission meeting may have seemed like a bad case of deja vu. "Here we go all over again," Wroblewski whispered as commission members discussed a county zoning ordinance amendment that, if passed, will affect which zoning districts commercial wind farms can be built in. The county ordinance currently allows wind farms in agricultural and countryside zones by right and by special exception permit in resource protection zones. The amendment, which was first proposed during the commission's May meeting, would allow wind farms in resource protection and agricultural zones by right, and in countryside zones by special exception.
After an afternoon of testimony on Wednesday, a hearing on the application for special exceptions to permit 12 wind-powered turbines was continued until next week before the Fayette County Zoning Hearing Board. The windmills, which harness the wind for electricity, would be located in Georges and Springhill townships. They are part of a project through the Portland, Ore.-based PPM Atlantic Renewable Energy Corp. called the South Chestnut Windpower Project. Attorney Daniel Rullo, representing the corporation, asked the board to consider special exceptions for each of the 12 windmills, which all would be located on land zoned A-1, agricultural/rural. The hearing was continued because the seven or eight people in attendance did not get to present their views on the windmills. Additionally, zoning hearing board solicitor Ewing Newcomer said the board needed additional information on some of Rullo's other requests regarding the windmills. The hearing will reconvene at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Opponents of the proposed Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm along the border of Somerset and Bedford counties have one idea in common: Not in my backyard. Officials from Gamesa Energy USA pitched their plan for 30 turbines at a town hall meeting at Pitt-Johnstown's Living Learning Center on Wednesday. More than 200 challengers cheered each other's comments when officials and environmental experts heard from the audience.
GEORGES TWP. - With the state focusing more on renewable energy sources, one of the world's largest wind-generated energy producers is exploring Fayette County for a new windmill farm. A few dozen local residents turned out Tuesday evening at an open house held in Fairchance to review preliminary plans for a windmill farm on Chestnut Ridge in Georges and Wharton townships.
Montemuro wants to build a 28-foot turbine to generate electricity for his store and for his home. He figures the turbine will cost about $30,000, but he expects to recoup that through electricity savings and a reimbursement from a state incentive program, such as the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, which encourages the use of alternative energy sources.
Wind energy company Gamesa Energy USA has rescheduled a town hall meeting for Wednesday, June 20 to be held at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. On June 12, the company officials backed out of a meeting that was scheduled to be held in Shade Township citing concerns they would not be given enough time to present their issues. The resulting forum was marked by opponents of Gamesa's Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm project speaking for more than three hours to a partisan crowd. After the meeting, organizer Larry Hutchinson, who is president of the Shade Creek Watershed Association, said the format suffered from a lack of balance.
If you go up to the Rattlesnake Roundup this weekend in Noxen, take a look beyond the snakes. Look past the fenced snake pen, the crowd of people and the bucolic small town. Focus on the mountains that guard over Noxen, for they are about to change. BP Alternative Energy is eyeing the mountains as the future sight of a wind turbine facility. The corporate energy giant believes the top of the ridge may be a suitable location for 30 to 70 turbines. Township residents beg to differ, and I can understand why.
Depending upon which side of the line you're standing, a $5,000 land survey may pay off for Portage Township or steal from a neighboring Blair County township. There has been debate for generations over the boundary separating Portage and Juniata townships. Two wind turbines and a survey to determine their locations may heat things up again quickly. Portage Township officials, after months of wondering what happened to two of the 16 windmills they were expecting to receive from Gamesa, used old maps and new global positioning system information to survey the disputed area. They say the results put the turbines back in their township.