Nearly 100 people packed into the old Noxen Schoolhouse on Tuesday and listened to around four hours of debate about wind turbines.
The session was called by the supervisors, following a meeting on May 1, during which an ordinance to regulate wind turbines was tabled.
Although the meeting Tuesday largely focused on the pros and cons of wind turbines, it also provided more information on BP Alternative Energy’s interest in building the devices on South Mountain.
Around 7,400 acres of the mountain, which is located partly in Forkston Township, are owned by Deer Park Lumber of Tunkhannock Township.
“We feel we want to keep this property in one piece,” Jeffrey Nichols of Deer Park Lumber said.
He added that a wind turbine facility would help the company keep its property intact.
BP Alternative Energy business developer Kevin Davis said that the Deer Park Lumber property is one of the parcels of land on the mountain where the company is considering placement of a wind turbine facility.
“We don’t know if there will be a project,” he said. “We are in the very early stages.”
Davis did explain that construction on a wind turbine facility could begin in 2009 if the Virginia-based company determines that the area has adequate wind resources.
He also said that a facility on the mountain could have 35-70 turbines that produces energy, which would largely go to the more populated areas of Northeastern Pennsylvania such as Scranton or Wilkes-Barre.
Construction of the facility would create around 200 temporary jobs filled primarily by local residents, he added.
Davis’ presentation did little, however, to calm concern and anger felt by some residents.
“I wanted to let the township know what you’re in for and what you heard isn’t what you’re in for,” Doug Ayers, a Noxen Township resident and conservationist, said.
Dr. Henry Smith, a member of the Defend Our Watershed board who was asked to speak during the meeting by Ayers, said that wind turbines can kill birds and cause other dangers.
“The problems with turbines are that these things don’t just go up and stay up, they go down,” he said. “Also, there are fires. These things get struck by lighting frequently.”
He recommended that Noxen residents get an independent consultant to evaluate the project.
Supervisor Tom Nalbone Jr. explained that an ordinance to regulate wind turbines was tabled, because supervisors were concerned that the township wouldn’t be able to withstand a legal challenge from Deer Park Lumber or BP Alternative Energy.
“Our responsibility to you is to pass an ordinance that is going to be upheld, that is legitimate and will protect you,” he said. “And at the same time not bankrupt us.”
By Josh Mrozinski
The Citizens’ Voice
23 May 2007
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