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Wind-power's risks discussed

About 100 Cambria and Somerset county residents gathered Thursday to learn more about potential risks of placing energy turbines on ridgetops, an issue now in the news.

Representatives of wind-development companies, as well as the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, declined to speak at the forum
on wind energy Thursday at Pitt-Johnstown.

Dan Boone, a Maryland-based consulting conservation biologist, disputed what he called exaggerated claims by the wind-power industry: That it can reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil; that it can provide a meaningful solution to air pollution problems; and that it can reduce rates of burning and mining coal.

And local physician Dr. Kelly Warshel gave a presentation on a condition called wind-turbine syndrome, the symptoms of which include sleep problems, headache, exhaustion, dizziness, lack of concentration and ringing in the ears.

While a handful of township supervisors in northern Somerset County consider ordinances to limit turbines, proponents of wind energy claim the county’s first-of-its-kind ordinance already makes erecting turbines difficult.

Pennsylvania, unlike nearby states, still has no official commission or permit process designated for wind farms.

A 2005 Government Accountability Office report called on federal officials to be more active in regulating wind-power development and be more attentive to the needs of the ecosystem.

Opponents say that wind farms on ridges kill a significant number of bats and birds, though there have been few significant studies.

Proponents say that, although turbines kill birds and bats, they do not do so in significant numbers.

By Kecia Bal
The Tribune-Democrat