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Gamesa proposes turbines in Tyrone

Gamesa Energy USA wants to build about a dozen wind turbines on Tyrone Borough’s Ice Mountain watershed as part of a larger wind farm that would stretch into Centre County.

“We think it has really good potential for a wind farm,” Gamesa representative Josh Framel told Borough Council at its Monday meeting. “We’d like to start discussing the lease agreement with the borough.”

The 12 to 15 wind turbines are part of Gamesa’s Sandy Ridge project, Framel said. Even though each turbine only takes 1 acre of land, the company is looking to lease about 1,000 of the borough’s 1,800 acres in Snyder Township.

That number would take into consideration the roads and underground cabling needed to link the network of turbines. Framel said because of wetland considerations and topography, it allows the company leeway as it plans the project.

The number of acres, he said, could be less after Gamesa looks more closely at what it can do on the mountain.

A public meeting to gauge resident opinion about the wind farm tentatively is scheduled for May 23 at Tyrone Elementary School, Framel said.

Snyder Township has no ordinances addressing commercial wind farms, but its supervisors board last month directed the solicitor to develop one.

While Framel talked to officials Monday, another Gamesa representative addressed Snyder Township supervisors.

Gamesa representative Terry Nichols provided supervisors with the company’s perspective concerning an ordinance.

During Snyder’s meeting, solicitor Allen Gibboney informed supervisors that he has worked on the ordinance, specifically with the materials Gamesa sent to the township, and presented them with issues they needed to decide.

First, supervisors need to determine whether the minimum distance from residential structures also should include consideration for industrial and commercial buildings, Gibboney said. The township also needs to decide whether hunting camps and seasonal structures should be treated as residential buildings.

Up to 20 wind turbines are proposed for the wind farm, and Gamesa is wooing other property owners, including the Allegheny Hunting Club, for space along the ridge, Framel said.

Councilwoman Virgie Werner asked whether the company had received concerns from that camp or others about the potential impact of a wind farm. Framel said feedback has been positive.

“Of course their No. 1 concern is the effect on game,” Framel said, adding that with the building of roads would come additional areas for food plots. He said deer already are returning to the ground where the company built the Allegheny Ridge wind farm.

Borough solicitor Larry Clapper said the lease agreement, received from Gamesa several weeks ago, will take time to dissect.

Clapper asked the council if it was interested in pursuing the agreement before getting too far into the process.

“I think there is an interest, but I don’t want to say, “˜yes’ tonight,” Mayor Jim Kilmartin said.

By Greg Bock


8 May 2007