Wind energy is one of Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing industries and now Lancaster County has its first wind farm under consideration – a $24 million project at the county landfill in Manor Township.
Are there any concerns?
Bird collisions, aesthetics and sound concerns have been issues with some wind turbine farms across the country.
“We recognize that has been a concern and we would look at that thoroughly,” James Warner, executive director of the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority says of the bird mortality issue.
The authority and PPL are exploring a wind farm on top of the landfill property at Turkey Point.
Just last month, the Pennsylvania Game Commission signed a cooperative agreement with 12 wind-power companies “to avoid, minimize and potentially mitigate any adverse impacts the development of wind energy may have on the state’s wildlife resources.”
The Conejohela Flats, just above Turkey Point, has been designated as one of the state’s “Important Bird Areas.”
In a study requested by Congress, the National Research Council said this week that scientists need to spend more time studying the threat that the spinning blades of wind turbines pose to birds and bats.
The towers appear most dangerous to night-migrating songbirds, bats and some hunting birds, the study said. But it warned that the risk is not yet well enough known to draw conclusions.
The six turbines proposed for the landfill would be on towers 250 feet high and each blade would be 120 feet long.
As for any sound pollution, Warner says he and PPL officials recently visited Atlantic City, N.J., to see wind turbines similar to the size of those that could be built at the landfill.
“You couldn’t hear a thing,” Warner says.
As one of the highest points along the Lower Susquehanna, the towers would certainly be visible from the river.
A 150-foot Nextel tower is currently located on private property at Turkey Point.
No power-generating wind turbines are currently located in Lancaster County. The developers of a proposed high-rise condominium, hotel and commercial tower tower in Columbia are considering a single wind turbine, about one-fourth the capacity of each of the Turkey Point turbines.
Warner says some people may wonder why an authority in the trash business is getting involved in commercial energy ventures.
His reply: “The fact is, we do own a public asset that we believe has great potential to further renewable energy development.”
The county waste-to-electricity incinerator and the new methane gas plant produce electricity equivalent to powering one in six homes in Lancaster County, he notes.
“So, we’re already in this business.”
PPL and the authority have not discussed ownership or other details of a wind farm, if built.
PPL currently owns no wind turbine farms, but does purchase about 50 megawatts of power from two private wind farms located in the Poconos area.
The utility recently pledged to spend $100 million on new renewable-energy sources.
The landfill project could end up being one of them.
By Ad Crable
Lancaster New Era
3 May 2007
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