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Citizens' group opposing wind farms formed in Tioga County

A new citizen’s group has formed in Tioga County with the aim of keeping wind farms out of the rural north central Pennsylvania county.

The group is represented by Frank Piccolella, who lives just over the border in Lycoming County and owns a florist shop with his wife Judi here.

“Three weeks ago, we had six people. Now, it’s up to 27 and gaining momentum rapidly,” he told the commissioners during their Tuesday meeting.

Calling themselves the Tioga Preservation Group, members are concerned with preserving the “people’s right to preservation of the aesthetic values of the environment,” as defined in the Pennsylvania state constitution.

Piccolella gave the commissioners a folder with copies of documents taken off the Internet supporting his claim that wind farms are “bad for the health” of those who live nearby.

One of them described a phenomenon called “Wind Turbine Syndrome.” According to testimony given by Dr. Nina Pierpont to the New York State Legislature’s Energy Committee last year, a myriad of ailments can result from exposure to low frequency sound waves generated by the turning giant blades of wind turbines.

Among those symptoms are high blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, PIerpont testified.

“On the ridge tops of Pennsylvania and New York, symptoms can appear within 1.5 miles,” Piccolella said.

Other documents included an Aug. 6, 2006, press release from the United Kingdom Noise Association, claiming that wind turbine noise can be “a real problem in rural areas,” because the decibel level of the turbines increases at night, creating sleep disturbances in residents more than a mile away.

Robert Schwoyer of Rutland Township told commissioners the giant blades on the turbines are dangerous if they are faulty or break off, and cited news articles Tuesday reporting blades “breaking and flying 500 feet” in Cambria County.

“I have a friend who lives down there and he said it was closer to 1,000 feet,” he said, and produced photos of the turbines with their broken blades.

The defective blades were blamed on lack of quality control in the wind turbine blade factory.

Schwoyer wanted to know when a public hearing would be held so people could voice their opinions on the issue.

County planner Jim Weaver told those in attendance that though no wind energy company had yet filed an application with the planning commission, there was only so much that could be done by municipal agencies to “control and regulate” the wind energy companies if they wish to operate in Tioga County.

“Zoning could guide where they can be and a subdivision ordinance how, but the Pennsylvania municipal planning code does not give us the authority to say “˜no’ to these companies,” he said.

Emily Rizzo, a Rutland Township resident, showed commissioners a survey sent to nearly 500 property owners by township supervisors.

About one-third of the surveys were returned. Of those, 60 percent indicated they are in favor of a wind farm being constructed in Rutland Township, 30 percent said they were against and 16 percent were undecided.

Rizzo said a company called AES is planning to install 17 turbines in Rutland Township.

By Cheryl R. Clarke


9 May 2007