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Railroad plans wind turbine at Enola yard  

Norfolk Southern Railway is considering building the midstate’s first full-size wind turbine in its Enola freight yard along the Susquehanna River.

The wind turbine would be in the southeastern corner of the long and narrow rail yard and be 200-225 feet high, the equivalent of a 22-story building, rail officials told East Pennsboro Twp. officials. It would provide electricity to a new wastewater treatment plant.

“They wanted to know if we were going to be negative, and if so, they would not pursue it,” East Pennsboro Twp. manager Robert L. Gill said. “We’re going to tell them to at least proceed.”

Rudy Husband, a railroad spokesman, said Thursday that a final decision on building the turbine won’t be made until a feasibility study is completed. Those studies typically last a year and measure wind velocity and consistency.

Gill said Russell seemed fairly certain there’s enough wind at the site, even though it’s one of the lowest points in the township. The site is roughly across the river from the intersection of Front and Wiconisco streets in Harrisburg.

A potential hurdle for the turbine is nearby Wade Island, a legally protected bird sanctuary. That’s the closest island to the Interstate 81 bridge in the group of small islands between McCormick Island and the west shore of the river.

Terry L. Master, an East Stroudsburg University biology professor who led a study of the bird population of Wade Island, said it is the only colony of great egrets in Pennsylvania.

He said a wind turbine in the freight yard would be “a potential threat.” Black-crowned night herons and cormorants also live on Wade Island in significant numbers.

Great egrets are the tall, long-legged white birds occasionally seen feeding on small fish, crawdads and tadpoles on the river. They are more commonly found at seashores.

Great egrets typically fly south in the morning along the west shore of the river to feed around the Sheets Islands near the Harvey Taylor Bridge or in Conodoguinet Creek, Master said.

Those routes would take them close to the proposed turbine site. Master said egrets typically fly several hundred feet above the ground and are used to avoiding obstacles like the tall light towers in the freight yard.

“But those aren’t moving,” he said.

East Pennsboro commissioners seemed intrigued by the prospect of a wind turbine when they discussed it Wednesday night. George DeMartyn, president of the board, noted that the township spends a half-million dollars a year on electricity for its wastewater treatment plant.

Norfolk Southern is building a 50-kilowatt wind turbine to power a wastewater treatment plant at its freight yard in Bellevue, Ohio.

That turbine is being supplied by Entegrity Wind Systems of Boulder, Colo. A company spokesman did not immediately return a call. Husband said Norfolk Southern wouldn’t necessarily use the same contractor on the Enola project.

By David DeKok

The Patriot-News

7 December 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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