Opponents of the proposed Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm along the border of Somerset and Bedford counties have one idea in common:
Not in my backyard.
Officials from Gamesa Energy USA pitched their plan for 30 turbines at a town hall meeting at Pitt-Johnstown’s Living Learning Center on Wednesday.
More than 200 challengers cheered each other’s comments when officials and environmental experts heard from the audience.
Ellen Lutz, Gamesa’s director of development for the Atlantic Region, and Tim Vought, the project’s developer, said the company’s intention is to provide “positive impact on the economy and minimal impact on the environment.”
Most discounted Gamesa’s intentions.
Larry Hutchinson, president of the Shade Creek Watershed Association, said that while he favors wind energy, he doesn’t support turbines on Shaffer Mountain.
“There are miles and miles of abandoned mine lands that could be used,” Shaffer said. “It’s about the whole ecology (of Shaffer). I don’t believe we should trade ecology for energy.”
Hutchinson was one of a dozen folks who said they were concerned about water quality, erosion, deforestation and decreased property values.
Lutz said that, while she and other officials understand the emotion involved, many opinions are based on misinformation.
Dennis McNair said the answers to the nation’s energy problems are to burn clean coal and conserve electricity. “This is the worst place in the world for this project,” he said.
Gamesa hasn’t received permits for the project. Vought said the company still is receiving information from environmental specialists and refining the areas for turbine locations.
By Julie Benamati
20 June 2007
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