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Court takes up fight over wind farm fight  

A dispute over whether an energy company should be allowed to put 25 wind turbines in Bear Creek Township is now in the hands of Commonwealth Court.

The court heard about 20 minutes of arguments Monday on whether a Luzerne County judge erred earlier this year when he overturned a decision by township supervisors not to issue a permit to Energy Unlimited to erect the turbines.

In May, township supervisors voted 2-1 against a plan to install the turbines on Penobscot Mountain because they felt Energy Unlimited had substantially changed its development plans since first proposing the wind farm in 2003.

The company went to court over the rejection, convincing Luzerne County President Judge Michael Conahan to overturn the supervisors’ decision. That prompted the supervisors to appeal to Commonwealth Court.

During arguments Monday, township solicitor William Vinsko told a three-judge panel of the state court that Energy Unlimited made “substantial changes” to its wind farm proposal that led supervisors to reject it.

“What was submitted (initially) really was a sketch plan,” Mr. Vinsko told the judges. “The new plan that was submitted had many changes, many modifications.”

Attorney Ernest Preate Jr., who represents Energy Unlimited, countered that the plan rejected by township supervisors last spring had only “minor modifications” from the original plan, and supervisors were wrong to vote it down.

“We believe that all through this process we have complied and complied and complied,” Mr. Preate said.

The outcome of the case could affect Energy Unlimited’s plans to put an additional nine turbines on land near Crystal Lake owned by Luzerne County.

By Michael Race
Harrisburg Bureau Chief


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