Despite a crippling setback earlier this year, backers of the Penobscot Mountain Wind Project are refusing to let the idea blow away quietly.
Energy Unlimited Inc. announced on Monday it had filed an appeal before the state Supreme Court of a lower court decision that had upheld Bear Creek Township’s rejection of the wind turbine park. That Commonwealth Court decision in February was a reversal of an August 2006 ruling by Luzerne County President Judge Michael Conahan. Conahan’s ruling overturned a 2-1 vote by supervisors in May 2006 to reject a preliminary plan submitted by Energy Unlimited and Pennsylvania Wind Power.
“We think the county court was correct and the township abused their discretion,” said Ed Shoener, Energy Unlimited’s project manager. “We just think there was a basic, fundamental error. We think the conditions were met.”
The project was denied, the majority argued, because Energy Unlimited hadn’t addressed 28 concerns submitted by the township Planning Commission, but the lone dissenter, Supervisor Gary Slusser, has maintained that all the conditions were met.
“That’s fine with me. I voted for these. I want the windmills,” Slusser said. “It’s a win-win situation for Bear Creek Township if they go up.”
Township solicitor Bill Vinsko was undaunted by the appeal. “We’ll have to continue our litigation. We’re confident in our position, and we’ll have to wait and see how the Supreme Court rules, if they decide to take the case.”
The other supervisors, Bonnie Wasilewski and Ruth Ann Koval, did not return calls seeking comment.
Shoener expected to know within 90 days if the Supreme Court would consider the appeal. Even if it is unsuccessful, he said Energy Unlimited will continue to explore other legal avenues to getting the 25-turbine park approved.
If the project is resubmitted, Shoener said the company would seek to be approved under the zoning ordinance that was in effect when the original project was submitted, an action Slusser supports. The ordinance has since become much more restrictive, including requiring turbines to be set back 1,000 feet from wetlands.
“By changing the zoning law, they basically made it very difficult to build a wind farm. So they basically threw out all of the “¦ benefits “¦ both economically and for the environment,” Shoener said. “This is a good project. “¦ Regardless of what happens at the Supreme Court level, the company will continue to go forward with this project.”
By Rory Sweeney
Times Leader Staff Writer
15 May 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding