An international renewable energy company is planning to build a wind farm that spans three Somerset County townships.
Airtricity plans to install 26 turbines: three towers in Shade Township, 18 towers in Stonycreek Township and five towers in Allegheny Township.
“Right now we are in the final layout process,” Robert Trotta, vice president of development, said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Airtricity must file land development plans with Shade and Allegheny townships and the Somerset County Planning Commission.
The company must also comply not only with the county’s windmill ordinance, but with separate ordinances in Shade and Allegheny townships. Turbines built in Stonycreek Township will follow the county’s ordinance by default.
Shade and Allegheny townships developed more stringent ordinances last year after some residents came out in opposition to the structures. Residents from both townships said the county’s ordinance did not provide enough protection for neighboring property owners. The county’s ordinance allows the structures to be built by a neighboring property line without a waiver.
Shade’s ordinance requires setbacks of three times the hub height from the nearest property line of a non-participating landowner. A non-participating property owner is someone who has not given the developer permission to build a tower within the setback distance. Also, each turbine’s noise level must not exceed 45 decimals.
Turbines erected in Allegheny Township must have a setback of five times the turbine height between the windmill and a home, business, recreational home or cabin of a non-participating property owner.
Airtricity’s Somerset County facility has been in development since 2006. Meeting the requirements set forth by federal, county and local officials has been a priority, Trotta said.
“I feel we’ve been really proactive,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of consultation with the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to minimize the turbines’ impact on the land.
“We planned for a lot more turbines in Allegheny Township, but we came off the Allegheny Front to address the migratory conditions” for birds, he added.
Airtricity does not have a power purchase agreement for the facility. The company is in the process of receiving permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection. If plans go accordingly, the facility will be built in spring 2008.
By Jennifer Garleski
Daily American Staff Writer
2 August 2007
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