NOXEN TWP. – Within a few years, South Mountain’s 2,330-foot profile in Wyoming County could grow a few hundred feet if an international energy company goes through with a wind turbine park project it’s considering.
Representatives from BP Alternative Energy, part of the former British Petroleum, have discussed the idea with county and local officials to construct as many as 90 turbines on the site, which encompasses more than 100,000 acres. Wind-gauging anemometers are being installed to study the usability of the wind resources. According to state wind maps, wind potential in that area just barely reaches a level considered viable for energy production.
“We’re simply trying to determine if a project can be done,” said John Curry, a spokesman for BP, who confirmed the company is aiming, if it goes forward with the project, to be on line by 2009. The potentially 150-megawatt site would connect to the Mehoopany substation and then into PJM Interconnection’s mid-Atlantic power grid.
While BP describes the potential site as the “Mehoopany Wind Energy Project,” it will likely cross three townships, including Mehoopany, Forkston and Noxen. Much of South Mountain is owned by Tunkhannock-based Deer Park Lumber Inc., though the South Mountain Landowners Association also retains some rights, according to county planner Paul Weilage.
BP says the mountain is already utilized for communication towers, and up to 3 percent of the acreage would potentially be impacted.
The company met last week with Forkston Township supervisors, said Supervisor Frank Miner, adding that the supervisors “wouldn’t be averse” to the project because it creates clean energy with what he considered negligible negative impacts. “When I’m driving down to Wilkes-Barre, I like the way those towers look,” he said, noting that company officials said it’ll be quieter than other wind parks.
But that’s not everyone’s opinion. Dr. Doug Ayers, who owns a 123-acre farm in Noxen Township, is against the project because it could potentially increase flooding threats in the area, which was inundated during the June 2006 floods, without creating a significant source of energy.
“Already there’s issues with erosion and the way (Deer Park workers) manage their roads and the reduction of tree coverage,” he said. “Putting wind power in Pennsylvania is stupid, and that’s because we don’t have any wind. … They’re standing up like they’re saviors and conversationalists, and that’s disgraceful.”
By Rory Sweeney
18 July 2007
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