Wayne County, Pennsylvania
At first glance, it feels like Vermont.
Rural and relaxed. Filled with village greens that could be from another era.
But a clear giveaway you’re not in the Green Mountains, big billboards.
This is Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“What would you say this community is like, what is the character here?” Channel 3 reporter Kristin Carlson asked Donald Olsommer, who is a Wayne County Commissioner. He responded, “Character? It’s farmland, very conservative.”
And also cutting edge. Wayne County has the largest wind farm in Pennsylvania.
County Commissioner David Olsommer loves to show off the Waymart Wind Farm.
“There it is there is one,” he says as he points out one turbine.
At first the early morning mist hides the turbines, but their presence is still unmistakable.
Like a ship through fog, they emerge one at a time, until all 43 are visible.
“Listen, you hear the humm… humm…. humm…. like that,” said Olsommer.
When asked if people mind that noise Olsommer said, “Some do, but it wouldn’t bother me.”
Three years ago a wind developer built the Waymart Wind Farm along the spine of the Moosic Mountain. Its 43 turbines power 22,000 homes.
Florida Power and Light owns and operates the turbines, they denied a request for an interview and tour.
But getting up close is not a problem.
Gene Smith lives within 700 yards of the turbines and can easily spot 6 from his home. It’s a view he never imagined.
“We thought living here with the mountain being so steep and rugged as it is. I didn’t think any houses would be built there, nothing would go on, now all of a sudden wind mills are there,” said Smith.
Smith considered fighting it, but thought it would cost too much. He’s learned to tolerate the turbines and the occasional tourist that pulls into his driveway to take pictures.
“Outside of having to look at them I think they are good thing for power. It is clean doesn’t burn any fossil fuels.”
Four miles away, a different view.
“I can generally see about seven of them,” said Ray Vogt. Vogt is an outspoken opponent, he thinks the turbines have ruined the ridge line. But it would seem he’s in the minority, in this whole county, with a similar population and size as Rutland County, only about a dozen people fought it.
“We weren’t united enough, there weren’t enough people who would be interested.”
It didn’t even spark controversy that the power made here does not stay here. Unlike proposed wind projects in Vermont where energy would be bought by local utilities, all the energy produced in Waymart is sold on the open market, helping run homes throughout the Northeast… possibly even Vermont.
Kristin Carlson: “What would you say to Vermonters who are having this debate about wind, whether its good or bad for the state?” Donald Olsommer: “I would tell them to relax, it is a good thing it really is.”
“For years we looked at the mountain landscape and liked it,” said Gene Smith, “And now we have these things, it looks ok but it doesn’t look natural.”
A changed landscape that’s now part of Pennsylvania and could be part of Vermont, how you see it depends on your point of view.
Kristin Carlson – Channel 3 News
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