August 22, 2007

Carbon planners review zoning changes on regulating wind power

Carbon County planners are going over changes to Penn Forest Township’s zoning ordinance that defines regulations for wind turbines.

Township supervisors are considering 22 rules dealing with the power-generating machines. Resident Paul Montemuro, who owns a beverage store in Albrightsville, in June told them he wants to put a 28-foot turbine on his property to cut down on heating and cooling costs, which he said total nearly $700 per month.

The changes include restricting the number of wind turbines to one per lot, barring advertising on them and requiring that any buildings or boundaries be a distance of 110 percent of the height of the turbine.

The changes, which also would require that turbines be dismantled after being inactive for a year, may be adopted after public hearings.

County planners got their first look on Tuesday and commended the changes, calling them ”well thought out.”

Montemuro told the township he wants to build the turbine to generate electricity for his store and for his home. He figures the turbine will cost about $30,000, but he expects to recoup that through electricity savings and a reimbursement from a state incentive program, such as the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, which encourages the use of alternative energy sources.

He said he can sell excess power to PPL Corp., which provides the electricity to his home and business.

The turbines may be the first ones in Carbon County, zoning officer Joe Steber has said. He said he’s had ”several inquiries” from residents who are considering building them.

Township officials checked ordinances in other municipalities as they crafted their own.

Tunkhannock Township in Monroe County in September 2006 built a 28-foot-high wind turbine to power its maintenance building, said clerk Maria S. Wieand.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Charlie Young has said the agency is developing a model zoning ordinance for all wind turbines, residential and commercial.

The state now regulates commercial, but not residential, wind turbines.

Wind power is on the fast track for alternative energy in the state. Young said Pennsylvania’s wind turbines now produce 179 megawatts of power.

Within the next 12 months, Young said, the state expects that to increase by 214 megawatts.

By Chris Parker Of The Morning Call

The Morning Call

22 August 2007

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