Bear Creek Township’s ongoing feud over wind turbines continues tonight, when supervisors will vote at their 6:30 p.m. meeting whether to approve nine wind turbines proposed by Energy Unlimited.
Like previous votes regarding the proposed Penobscot Mountain wind farm, it will likely take the courts, not the municipal government, to sort it out.
The nine wind turbines – called the back nine – are part of Energy Unlimited’s overall plan to construct 34 wind turbines near Crystal Lake on the 7,000-acre Theta land owned by Luzerne County. The other 25 turbines await a Commonwealth Court decision, which could effect the back nine. Plans for the nine turbines would not work without the other 25.
Supervisors originally voted 2-1 in May to reject the turbines, but Luzerne County President Judge Michael Conahan overturned the supervisors’ decision Aug. 11 based on an appeal from Energy Unlimited. Supervisors voted 2-1 to appeal the decision a week later. Supervisor Gary Slusser dissented both times.
Energy Unlimited’s attorney Ernest Preate Jr. said his client will appeal the supervisors’ decision if it is rejected without merit.
The planning commission rejected the proposal 3-1 at its October meeting, but that vote is just a recommendation for the supervisors. Supervisors have yet to receive the commissions written recommendation.
Supervisors Ruth Koval and Bonnie Wasilewski declined to comment about the wind turbines because of the pending vote and ongoing court case. Slusser, however, said he would likely vote for the additional nine, as he did the front 25.
As they await the commonweath’s decision, both side continues to argue the merits of the plans.
Opponents argue that installing the turbines will:
n ruin one of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s “environmental gems” and a watershed area.
n use the donated Theta land for a purpose not intended, which was to for preservation.
Proponents, meanwhile, say:
# Energy Unlimited has followed township rules in applying for permits.
# appealing decisions will cost the township in excessive legal fees. Solicitor Bill Vinsko is paid $90 per hour for his work.
“It’s going to cost us megabucks,” Slusser said, “and it’s not (Koval and Wasilewski’s) money. It’s the township’ money.”
By Coulter Jones
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