Three years ago, Todd Hutzell of Rockwood thought Sand Spring Mountain in Somerset County provided one of the region’s most beautiful views.
Now with 20 wind turbines lining the mountain just down the road, he has a much different view.
“It doesn’t matter how far you go from them. You can see them,” Hutzell.
Hutzell and his sister, Karen Ervin, spoke to about 200 Bedford County residents Monday night at a meeting of Save Our Allegheny Ridges, a nonprofit group formed last year to educate residents about the negative aspects of wind turbines.
At least three wind energy companies are looking to erect turbines on local ridges.
“I live here because I love the mountains,” eighth-generation Snake Spring Township resident Beth Anderson said.
“Amen,” someone in the audience yelled out.
About 80 residents have joined SOAR, which is fighting to regulate siting of turbines.
“You’ll need to decide for yourself if they’re majestic or a monstrosity,” said Anderson, becoming choked up.
Advocates say turbines are a source of renewable energy and could decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
That’s a myth, said Dan Boone, a Maryland-based conservation ecologist who spoke at the meeting.
There are many potential harms to the environment, Boone said.
The 375-foot tall turbines in Somerset County no longer are the “big ones,” he said.
“The new ones are three to four stories taller,” Boone said.
Benjamin Tresselt, a consultant forester from Everett, said the amount of vegetation that would have to be removed for one turbine would be longer than a football field.
“You have several of these in a row – that’s significant deforestation,” said Tresselt, adding that when it rains, the water will have nowhere to go.
Residents suspicious of turbines have a few options, Altoona lawyer Steve Wicks said. The main one is the formation of a nuisance ordinance that would require turbines to be placed a certain distance from homes.
“It could be a function of terrain,” Wicks said. “One distance that might work in one township might not work in another. If you have an interest in this issue, talk to your township supervisor.”
The Bedford County Planning Commission has drafted a model ordinance for turbines, but no municipality has adopted a formal ordinance.
By Allison Bourg, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mirror Staff Writer Allison Bourg is at 946-7520.
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