Gamesa Energy USA representatives maintain a proposed wind farm on Shaffer Mountain will not damage pristine streams or the migratory paths of eagles.
Those two concerns, raised in a letter from the Central City Sportsmen’s Club opposing installation of 30 giant turbines on the ridge between Somerset and Bedford counties, will be among the issues addressed Tuesday.
Hosted by the Shade Creek Watershed Association, Dark Shade Brownfields Project and AmeriCorps, the forum will give residents a chance to hear details on the proposed Shaffer Mountain project.
Though farm opponents are lining up, the meeting sponsors say they are keeping an open mind.
“Right now, it doesn’t look like something we would back. But we don’t know enough about it,” said Lori Waylonis, brownfields outreach coordinator and AmeriCorps representative. “We’re not completely knowledgeable. We’re there to learn, just like the public.”
The sportsmen’s club has sent a letter to Gamesa opposing the project.
The May 22 letter said the turbines could damage Piney Run and Clear Shade Creek, two of only 28 “exceptional value” trout streams in the state.
The turbines also could affect the area where protected bald eagles migrate twice a year and where the rarer Eastern golden eagles fly, the organization said.
Gamesa ““ a Spain-based company with offices in Philadelphia ““ is proposing to build the electricity generating turbines mostly in Shade Township.
Many are concerned about the impact construction will have on Piney Run, a small tributary of Clear Shade Creek.
“I’m worried,” said Larry Hutchinson, president of the Shade Creek Watershed Association. “We’re concerned about erosion and runoff into Piney Run.”
Waylonis and Hutchinson stressed they favor green energy.
Yet they said it’s up to Gamesa to prove it can build turbines while protecting the ecosystem of fish, flora and animal life.
“We don’t want to make it sound like we’re against windmills. We just need to see some evidence,” Waylonis said.
Gamesa said it has prepared an erosion sediment plan and a post-construction stormwater management plan for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
It is seeking a special permit under the national Pollution District Discharge Elimination System.
“We have a permit application submitted to the DEP and we’ll show we will have zero impact on any stream within the project area,” project developer Tim Vought said.
“We have addressed erosion concerns and stormwater concerns for the long term.”
By Patrick Buchnowski
10 June 2007
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