Articles filed under Impact on Landscape from Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's mountain ridges are on track to teem with industrial wind turbines -- enough that, if placed on the 359-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike, they would stretch seven per mile. The turbines will require clearing a combined 10,000 acres of mountaintops. Each turbine would reach heights that rival Pittsburgh's skyscrapers. They could make their owners more than $300 million in federal subsidies and power more than 1 million homes. But they wouldn't remove a single coal-fired power plant from service.
Deeter said her home is about 1,400 feet from the nearest wind turbine, which means the developer does not have to contact her for a waiver to complete the project. Bill Lehman, a planner with the Somerset County Planning Commission, said Edison's wind farm near Deeter's home was reviewed and approved by the board. "All the developer has to do is provide certification of the setback from occupied structures," said Lehman, noting that the distance is determined by the tower's height. "A surveyor is required to certify the setback." After the towers are built, the county has little to do with the daily operation of wind farms, Lehman said.
"Symbolism aside, Potter and Tioga County mountain ridges may not be as impressive as Yosemite's El Capitan, or the Grand Tetons, but something very real would be sacrificed on the questionable altar of Renewable Energy for Profit. Potter and Tioga county mountain ridges are not just a backyard. They are a heritage and a legacy. And they are as good a place as any to make a stand." Preserve the beauty of our region, say no to industrial wind.
Eight turbines will be on Highland Sewer and Water Authority property above the utility's secondary reservoir. Highland agreed to participate after investigating the environmental impact, Manager Ed Englehart said. All plans have to be reviewed by Highland's engineers. "We checked with our hydrogeologist," Englehart said. "He is firmly convinced they don't pose any environmental damage." Opponents of another wind farm proposed for Shaffer Mountain have raised concerns about the construction's watershed impact and threat to endangered species. Such development is always an environmental balancing act, said Secretary Kathleen McGinty of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
A controversial proposal to build 30 wind turbines in an ecologically sensitive watershed containing a wilderness trout stream on Shaffer Mountain in northeastern Somerset County has been judged deficient by the state. A Feb. 22 letter from the state Department of Environmental Protection identifies more than two dozen deficiencies and concerns in the wind turbine permit application of Gamesa Energy USA, a Spanish wind power developer and turbine manufacturer. It requests additional information. ..."This is an untouched area with a cluster of environmentally sensitive issues," Mr. Buchan said. "We hope to get Gamesa to see the light. If not, we'll fight it for as long as it takes."
The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued a letter of deficiencies about the controversial Shaffer Mountain Wind project, The Tribune-Democrat has learned. The nine-page technical review letter, dated Feb. 19, raises a list of concerns about Gamesa's post-construction stormwater management plan, required to gain DEP's national pollutant discharge elimination system permit. It reiterates many of the issues raised by citizens in hearings and in comments to the DEP. ...The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also has questioned the company about impacts to Indiana bats and bird migration. DEP also recommended that Gamesa respond to 22 questions gathered through the department's public comment period. Many of them deal with concerns about water quality, forest fragmentation and wildlife habitat. Gamesa has 60 days to respond.
The state Fish & Boat Commission has been responsible for ensuring that wind energy development does not harm water or aquatic life since corporations began erecting turbines in Pennsylvania. But with the wind energy industry growing quickly - and showing no signs of letting up - Fish and Boat commissioners have decided to put the agency's regulatory policy in writing. The commissioners made the decision at their most recent meeting. They are accepting comments about the policy from the public. ..."Anytime there's encroachment on a ridgeline, you're dealing with headwater issues," Lichvar said. "If you have a problem where it begins, then you have a problem where it ends."
The quarry is one operation with active quarrying being done on approximately 30 acres - self-contained. Would Gamesa's Wind Project be self-contained - I don't think so! Where the quarry is one operation - Gamesa would have 30 operations - for starters! Gamesa's 30 operations would be located in the "heart" of the Piney Run Wilderness Area, atop the many ridges where below, the exceptional value streams flow. The destruction from sight clearings, turbine installations, plus approximately 18 miles of interconnecting roads and transmission lines over the many ridge-tops would devastate not only the land area, but also the bird, fish, wildlife and eco-system of Shaffer Mountain.
As the debate goes on, the turbines are going up in record numbers -- a trend that's expected to continue as the clean energy industry moves to take advantage of concerns about global warming and rising fossil fuel costs. ...Rick Webb, a senior scientist in the University of Virginia's Department of Environmental Sciences, isn't so sure wind power, particularly on the mountains of the mid-Atlantic, will help much. Webb participated in a National Academy of Sciences committee that studied wind power and released a report this year that found wind power is growing, but in many places, guidelines for development are lacking. ''I think the potential electrical supply and the potential reduction to other sources of power won't be great enough to compensate for environmental damages on the ridges,'' Webb said, adding he believes offshore development of wind farms would be more useful because there is a more-abundant supply of wind there.
The owner of Laurel Caverns told the Fayette County Zoning Hearing Board Wednesday that if a special exception is approved to allow windmills to be constructed in Georges and Springhill townships, it could result in the site of the most killings of bats in the United States. David Cale said the site holds that potential, although he acknowledged under questioning that it is unknown if that actually would occur. The largest measured annual bat kill was in 2003 when 2,000 bats were killed at a windmill site in West Virginia. ...Enfield previously said although the turbines may have a significant impact on bats, most of the bats are migrating, and steps can be taken to lessen the impact, such as putting a deterrent on the turbines to ward away the bats. Cale also spoke about the potential for "ice throw" of 425 feet, and pointed out that the towers can be seen from miles away and they would impact the view. ...Because there were numerous people in attendance who did not get to testify at the hearing, the board continued the hearing until 10 a.m. Jan. 30, 2008, when testimony in the matter is expected to conclude.
...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 Tioga County resident took advantage of Tuesday's commissioners meeting to urge officials to create a strong ordinance on the use of wind energy. "It's the commissioners' responsibility to protect the interests of the county residents," Leon Kocher of Covington Township said. Kocher referred to a building permit application from wind energy company AES for plans to construct 124 wind turbines on 10,000 acres of leased property in Tioga and Bradford counties, as early as next spring. "I'm not against the windmills," Kocher said, "I just don't want them near the homes of people who have not leased property to them."
The Altoona City Authority is asking Logan Township to enlarge its wind turbine zone by 775 acres, more than double the acreage expansion request the township turned down in May. Authority General Manager Mark Perry presented supervisors last week with aerial maps showing the township's wind zone and the authority's land. Perry asked for an expansion beyond the zone's Route 36 northern border to include a portion of the authority's land. Supervisors made no immediate decision, but Chairman Frank Meloy asked if arrangements could be made to visit the site...
Do you think wind mill development can effect property values? For anyone to say that property values aren’t hurt by this is wrong. I went to a house where six of these wind mills were facing down on me. The house is 2,000 feet away and you can plainly see them in front of you as if it’s right there, that’s how close they feel. They are gigantic devices and I have to say I am amazed by them, but would I want to look at them that close to me? No I wouldn’t. The people in Tyrone that will be affected by our proposed wind farm are the people who live on top of Decker Hollow Road, by the old apple orchard. Those people will see and hear the wind mills. I’m going Saturday on top of Decker Hollow Road and look to see the mountain they will be on and try to imagine what it will be like.
What is your main concern right now with a wind farm on Ice Mountain? My main concern would be the noise levels of the wind mills, based on the noise problem at the Allegheny Ridge project right now. Gamesa doesn't say there's not a problem, they admit there is a problem and they're working on it, but until they get that problem fixed, I'm pretty much a "no" until I hear that. If Gamesa fixes that problem, and the opponents up there that told me they don't like the noise are happy, and the noise is not there anymore, I can't think of anything standing in my way of a wind farm, in just my vote, coming here.
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.'"
Mr. Irons, your "spin" is nothing more than personal greed, the "Almighty Dollar", when it comes to Shaffer Mountain! ...I believe in leaving something "unspoiled" for future generation. My legacy is not $5,000 per wind turbine, per year, as is yours. My legacy is to protect the natural beauty of Shaffer Mountain from hypocrites such as you. With you Mr. Irons - It's all about money and nothing more.
Our area, in particular, does not seem to possess an accurate spot for windmills. Somerset County seems to be a target area for the windmill companies, which is fine, but no one seems to consider all parties involved. In my opinion, money has blinded many eyes and covered many ears. Is everyone taking into consideration the wildlife and trees that are abandoned and lost? What about the constant noises that can affect the nearby homeowners and their families? Somerset is a rural area. Many people retreat to our town to get away from life in the city and the sight of windmills seems to disturb the country scene that everyone has grown to know and love. ...I’m not anti-energy, but if proper locations are not located in Somerset, then windmills should be situated somewhere else, preferably a place where they seem more fitting and they will have less of an impact on people and nature.
A Pennsylvania company is asking the O'Malley administration for leases in two Western Maryland state forests so it can clear up to 400 mountaintop acres to build about 100 wind turbines. The U.S. Wind Force structures would be about 40 stories tall and visible from some of the region's most popular tourist areas, including Deep Creek Lake and the Savage River Reservoir. ...Dan Boone, a former state wildlife biologist who has been fighting wind farms in Western Maryland, said the Savage River and Potomac state forests contain rare old-growth trees and threatened species. "You are talking about taking one of the most spectacular scenic overlooks in Maryland and industrializing it," Boone said of a proposed site on Meadow Mountain in the Savage River forest. "It would be a real tragedy to take state lands and convert them into an industrial theme park for U.S. Wind Force."
It wasn't supposed to be a debate Wednesday night. Gamesa invited Tyrone residents to come to an open house and ask questions about what 15 windmills atop Ice Mountain might mean for them. ...But those curious residents were among the few. Dozens turned out, bringing their opposition. "Not only is it a unique area and a natural heritage area, but it's also an area that provides all the drinking water for the city of Tyrone," said Dr. Stan Kotala, president of the Juniata Valley Audubon Society.