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Officials settle county-line windmill issue  

Officials from two townships splitting the Cambria-Blair county line may not be in total agreement about boundaries.

But the question – at least as far as two wind turbines and their royalties are concerned – is being put to rest, officials said.

Gamesa Energy USA, developers of the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money to Juniata Township, Blair County, for the two windmills in question. In return, the township will not contest a land survey putting the structures in Portage Township.

Juniata also will be permitted to keep the $12,000 in host fees Gamesa has paid the township for the two turbines in 2006 and 2007.

“There is no definite line up there,” Juniata Township Supervisor David Kane said.

“We’re not going to push this issue. We could have fought it.”

At issue is two of the turbines in the first phase of what soon will be the state’s largest wind farm. A second phase is under construction, and a smaller third phase is being considered.

The Spain-based wind energy company pays host municipalities $3,000 annually per 2-megawatt turbine and, when the 2006 checks arrived, Portage received $6,000 less than anticipated.

Gamesa said at the time that initial information received regarding the county line was incorrect – the two turbines were in Juniata.

Citing a century of controversy about the Cambria-Blair county line, Portage and Washington township officials purchased GPS information and hired a surveyor with orders to walk the line rather than rely on property tax maps.

In June, the Portage supervisors said the results showed the questionable windmills are in their township. The results were passed on to Juniata Township and Gamesa.

There was no change in the windmill locations in Washington Township, Supervisor Ray Guzic said.

Gamesa project Manager Terry Nicol he could not comment on the issue because he was not directly involved. Calls were referred to Babcock & Brown, owners of the first phase of the wind farm, and a spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Portage Township Solicitor C.J. Webb, who has been marginally involved in the talks, said Gamesa stepped in and is attempting to resolve the issue.

“The parties have been talking, trying to reach an amicable resolution, and hopefully we’ll have something to bring back to the next meeting,” Webb told Portage Township officials Monday.

Juniata officials had proposed splitting the two allowing one to be considered in their township and the other in Portage, an idea Portage Township supervisors rejected.

They said that while the survey and GPS may have cost several thousand dollars, the payoff is significant. At $3,000 per turbine, it amounts to $180,000 in the next 30 years, the anticipated life of the wind generators.

Kane said the financial end of the deal has not been finalized, adding it would be premature to reveal the amount Gamesa is paying Juniata to resolve the matter.

By Kathy Mellott

The Tribune-Democrat

4 July 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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