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Landowners asked to avoid wind-farm work sites

PORTAGE – Citing safety concerns after recent blade breakage, the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm is asking landowners hosting the 40 turbines to stay away from construction areas until the work is done.

In a two-page letter to landowners in Portage and Washington townships and in Blair County, Daniel Elkort, a vice president with owner Babcock & Brown Power Operating Partners LLC, said restrictions are needed because the areas still are construction sites.

Security is being increased and signs urging caution will be installed, Elkort said. While some restrictive fencing may be used, property owners will be given keys to gates on their land.

“While we absolutely respect your right to use your property as you see fit, we would request that you limit your use of the property where repairs are under way to essential activities only,” he wrote.

Work slowed in March when two Fiberglas blades splintered, causing pieces to fall to the ground, and five others showed signs of cracking. Faulty gluing is suspected. The farm, Pennsylvania’s largest site, eventually will sprout 90 wind turbines.

Gamesa is investigating to ensure existing blades are without problems.

“I think they’re just protecting themselves,” said Supervisor Ray Guzic of Washington Township.

Contractors for Gamesa are replacing the problematic blades, said David Smith of Babcock & Brown. “Gamesa made a request and we agreed, during the time we’re making repairs, out of concern for safety and those on the site.”

Smith added that the restrictions will be lifted after the workers are gone.

Officials of the Portage Area Water Authority, host of eight turbines, say the restrictions will not affect their operation. “It doesn’t hurt us at all,” member Dennis Beck said.

By Kathy Mellott
The Tribune-Democrat

tribune-democrat.com

8 May 2007