Library filed under Impact on Landscape from Pennsylvania
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.
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.
An open house Wednesday by Spanish energy producer Gamesa USA is not exactly the kind of forum Tyrone's mayor had in mind when he asked the company to hold a public meeting on its proposed Ice Mountain wind farm. ... As it is set up now, with Gamesa representatives talking to people one-on-one, there's a missed opportunity for more people to hear how the company is addressing its critics.
Tyrone Mayor James Kilmartin has said that 70 percent of borough residents he has been in contact with oppose the wind farm project. This is a similar result to the Harrisburg Patriot News poll that revealed that 83 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose industrial wind farms on state forest lands. Juniata Valley Audubon Society (JVAS) President Stan Kotala, M.D. has been at the forefront of the opposition in Gamesa's proposed wind farm on Ice Mountain. He said that the JVAS is not opposed to wind energy, but asks that wind energy be developed in an ecologically sound manner, avoiding ecologically sensitive areas, such as Ice Mountain. "We ask that wind energy developers follow US Fish and Wildlife Service Guidelines calling for the avoidance of migratory pathways and unfragmented forests," said Kotala.
But the fact is that while wind power is being promoted as an essential part of any credible response to climate change, it is increasingly being challenged and questioned, as indeed is the case with other so-called "renewable" forms of energy, such as corn-based ethanol. ...a National Research Council study released this year entitled "Environmental Effects of Wind Energy Projects," concluded that based on the expected maximum number of windmills to be built, wind would offset total expected higher carbon emissions by no more that 2.25 percent. Is that a difference worth allowing the ridge tops of Pennsylvania to be dotted with giant industrial-sized windmills?
In 2005, Tyrone Borough Forester, Paul Noll, of Noll's Forestry Services, Inc. wrote the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Plan based on the 3,800 acre borough watershed property. Recently, Noll issued a recommendation/ suggestion summary report on the property concerning the possible Gamesa Energy USA wind farm installation and the issues that need to be addressed at the watershed property as a whole. ...In Noll's recent report, he stated that he would be "in favor of having the wind towers erected on the watershed property because you will be disturbing only a small area of the property, but the money you receive from the towers can be used to improve other areas of the watershed property."
Gray areas show active and reclaimed coal stripmines.
As Tyrone Borough and Spanish-based wind energy generator Gamesa work out the fine print on a lease agreement for watershed acreage, those outside the process question the merits of placing turbines on Ice Mountain. ...Resident Jeff Morrisey said he has done as much as he could to educate himself about the issue of wind turbines since he became aware of Gamesa's intentions. ‘‘The more I found out, the less I liked them,'' he said of the 380-foot-tall windmills. ‘‘I don't want them anywhere. I really don't see where they're making a difference.'' The difference Morrisey brings up is the debate over whether wind is a ‘‘green'' enough alternative to electricity generation methods, particularly coal-powered generation.
On June 29, 2006, I sent a two-page letter to Mr. Vought in regards to his and Gamesa's offer. This is a "quote" from that letter. "You stated (Tim Vought) that the first phase of wind-power development would consist of 30 wind-powered turbines, the first year (2007). Also, 30 more to follow in the second phase, which would be approximately two years, with other phases being considered." You stated this would be a definite because of the vast land holdings of Berwind Corporation (7,935 + acres) which were leased to Gamesa. Berwind-Gamesa lease of Nov. 22, 2005, in effect Gamesa leases the Windber Area Authority Watershed! Mr. Vought, John Kott was definitely 100 percent right in his statement! ...In closing, your letter to the editor, "Some simple facts" turns out to be another Gamesa "smoke-screen" containing nothing more than spin, half-truths, and in some cases such as the Windber Area Authorities cutting of timber - totally false and untrue statements!
Municipal officials riding a tour bus this week along Route 39 toward the town of Eagle first spotted several 300-feet-high wind turbines at a distance of about two miles away. A tour of the Bliss wind turbine park, sponsored by the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board, was set up to provide town officials in Cattaraugus County a variety of aspects on wind turbines. Proposals for wind turbine farms have been reviewed locally in communities that include the towns of Allegany and Carrollton as well as across the state line in Potter County. ..."This is my view now," he said pointing to the large wind turbines looming high above the tree lines. "This looks like the ‘War of the Worlds' out here, I mean I previously had a pristine, gorgeous view. "I can see 13 of these (wind towers) out here, and they say ‘your property value is going to increase' but do you think that's going to increase my property value," he asked.
Clean energy, no greenhouse gases, less dependence on foreign oil, guaranteed revenue for Tyrone - what's the catch? Well, there are many definite and possible catches. Gamesa promises no negative impacts to Tyrone's drinking water, but I wonder if they can really build all of those giant wind turbines without erosion taking place. There is always the possibility of an accident as well. According to Stan Kotala, spokesperson for the Juniata Valley Audubon Society, the small environmental gain from building the windmills would be offset by a huge ecological cost. Sandy Ridge has been identified as an Important Bird Area and a greenway. The wind turbines threaten birds and building them causes forest fragmentation. Mayor Kilmartin points out in his analysis, "... the structures will take up the ridge tops that people so tremendously love about this community." And these are big structures, too. One can't really comprehend their 450-foot height until you get close.
Recent articles, stated the project will enhance the water quality at this site. Also, Gamesa states that protecting natural resources and wildlife is a "shared priority" with the community. If this is so, then why was there a rattlesnake study of the area done in November (when snakes are hibernating)? Why did Gamesa do a study on bird migration in July, when bird migration doesn't start until late August, September and October? How does bringing in large equipment to clear-cut the forest and building new roads improve water quality of streams that are already of the highest quality in the state?
Tyrone Mayor James Kilmartin is asking the community to provide its input on the potential wind farm. Gamesa will be hoping to receive the borough's decision at the next council meeting November 13. "I want the community's response," said Mayor Kilmartin. "These wind mills will be up there for almost 30 years. These are 300 foot structures, then another 150 feet with the blades, so it's a 450 foot structure that's going to be on top of our ridge tops." ...He continued, "Years ago somebody made the decision to bring in low income housing and we went overboard on that, so now we're reaping some of the negative fruits of that decision. We want to look at this wind mill decision very systematically."
I made a trip up to Blue Knob today, in response to a constituent complaint to hear and see the new wind turbines located along the mountain top. ...It was a windy day and the blades were really moving. The complaint we received was about how disruptive the noise was. I agree after going to the site myself that the noise is disturbing and certainly carried to the home of the people who contacted me. I was also surprised at the ground area needed to facilitate the turbines, which includes a wide road cut into the woods. There needs to be more discussion on the placement of these structures and their effect not only on the environment but on the people who live close by.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will develop guidelines for wind turbine development in wetland and watershed areas following the quarterly board meeting in Harrisburg. The commissioners agreed during the Oct. 1 meeting not only to develop guidelines but also send a letter to Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty concerning the matter, said Len Lichvar, the District 4 commissioner. "We need to develop a full-blown policy, especially in exceptional value watersheds and wetland areas. We're charged by legislature to protect the resources of the state," he said. ..."We're more concerned with predictive studies, not necessarily post-construction studies. ..."
As supervisors develop an ordinance to regulate wind turbines, some people continue to express concern that a turbine facility proposed for the southern part of Wyoming County could hurt the watershed. "My concerns are when you cut off the top of the mountain, it creates runoff," Doug Ayers, a Noxen resident and conservationist, said.
Sensible Wind Solutions member Dr. Tom Dick - founder of the Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society - said state and federal legislators should have been regulating where the wind industry is allowed to place its turbines. That decision is left to individual municipalities, where leaders often have yet to encounter the wind industry. "To me, it is the same as strip mining," Dick said. "We were unregulated then, and now people are paying for it. Now, we are unregulated again."
A group fighting the Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm in Somerset and Bedford counties rallied Monday in the state Capitol for more-aggressive regulation of wind-energy companies. Laura Jackson, chairwoman of Save Our Allegheny Ridges, joined concerned citizens from nine counties, including Somerset, in Harrisburg to urge legislators to pass siting regulations for turbines. No state or federal guidelines are in place regarding where turbines can be located.