There was more to be said about wind farms during the Tioga County commissioners meeting Tuesday.
Commissioners heard from John Kesich and Emily Rizzo of Millerton on a visit the couple took to a wind farm near Waymart recently.
AES, a wind energy company located in Arlington, Va., has made plans to build several wind farms in the eastern side of Tioga County, and will soon make formal application to do so, according to county planner Jim Weaver.
The idea has generated controversy among neighboring land owners, who have voiced their concerns at previous commissioners’ meetings.
Among those concerns has been the noise the 100-foot-long blades make while turning in the wind.
According to Rizzo, the noise the giant turbines make sounds like wind blowing.
“It’s not that noisy,” she said.
She also said that the access road was well-maintained and had been “shrunk” down following the 2003 installation of the towers, so that it was much less intrusive.
“The only problem I heard about was with interference of television transmissions, and the wind farm company installed a transmitter and repeater to solve that,” she said.
Ice falling off them also could be a problem in cold weather, but warning signs were in place notifying anyone nearby of that danger, Rizzo added.
Kesich said he thought there might also be a problem with a shadow and light effect from the spinning blades that was a concern for some nearby homeowners.
“I’m still leery of this one company coming in and setting itself up here without coming to the people first,” Kesich said, referring to several land contracts that have already been signed by AES.
Kesich also said that a migratory bird study that was done prior to the Waymart farm being installed wasn’t long enough.
“It was only three to four weeks, and it should have been a multi-year study,” he said.
Commissioner Sue Vogler said that the commissioners will meet with Weaver in the near future to discuss the progress on an addendum to the subdivision and land use ordinance that addresses wind farms.
“He’s been working on a procedure and guidelines document to be used with the current ordinance,” Vogler said.
The county planning commission is expected to adopt it at its meeting this week, she added.
“Our main concern is and always has been public safety, and we feel Jim is doing a good job,” she said.
Coolidge added that the guidelines are not being developed “in a vacuum,” but take into account the experiences of other municipalities and the challenges met by other counties contending with the issue.
The cost for one of the giant turbines is $2.7 million, Coolidge said in response to a question from Mainesburg resident Eldon Nash.
Nash also wanted to know how long it would take for each one to generate a profit, to which Coolidge replied 10 to 15 years.
“They have a life span of 20 to 25 years,” Coolidge added.
Nash also pointed out that it would be at least three years before any new farms could be constructed in Pennsylvania because the company that makes the components is “way behind,” according to an article in Economist Magazine he quoted.
“I believe most people in this county have fallen into a state of social somnolence,” Nash said.
“They don’t care what is going on and the politicians don’t care either,” he added.
Roland Delmotte of Tioga, who supports the development of the alternative source of energy, said he thought there is a great deal of “proprietary interest” from others in property that doesn’t belong to them.
“My land is my land, and I should be able to do with it what I want,” he said.
He also said that wildlife should not be considered when he makes that determination.
“They don’t pay taxes, I do. If you want a beautiful skyline, buy it, or go somewhere else,” he said.
Coolidge said that the role of the commissioners is to “protect the county and set in place guidelines.”
“Any land agreements for these potential wind farms were done before we were made aware of them and now we are doing our best to educate the public,” he said.
Commissioner Mark Hamilton said that public meetings on the issue are in the planning stages.
By Cheryl R. Clarke
11 April 2007
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