BELLEFONTE – An opponent of a proposed wind farm in Taylor and neighboring Snyder townships told the Centre County Planning Commission on Tuesday night about the harm he thinks the project would cause and urged members to consider ordinances to protect municipalities.
Stan Kotala, president of the Juniata Valley Audubon Society, said wind farms have a “severe impact” on wildlife in Pennsylvania because of where they’re being built. He said that wasn’t his opinion, but is what the Pennsylvania Biological Survey has found.
Kotala said people should ask themselves: “Are you willing to give up your ridgetops?
And is it really worth it to you?”
Gamesa Energy USA has proposed building a wind farm with 25 windmills that would reach as high as 404 feet into the air. Most of the project, known as Sandy Ridge Wind Farm, would be in Snyder Township, Blair County. Company representatives gave an overview of the project to the county Planning Commission in December, saying the company carefully studies the sites of potential wind farms to make sure they are suitable.
The wind farm would generate enough energy to power 15,000 homes, according to the company, and would only disturb about 1 acre of land for each windmill, along with roadways and space between the windmills.
Kotala said while the wind farm’s footprint might only be 58 acres, it would have an impact on 500 acres of interior forest by creating “edge habitat.” Those edges make the birds that live in interiors subject to predator species such as foxes, raccoons and skunks.
The hardest-hit species, Kotala said of projects like this, are bats, which are attracted to turbines. Bats, he noted, are a primary predator of nocturnal insects.
Kotala, who was representing the group Save Our Allegheny Ridges, told the planning commission about ordinances some municipalities, such as Antis and Tyrone townships, have that protect residents and the municipalities. For example, rules could include requirements that wind turbines be at least 2,500 feet from a home or historic site.
The Taylor Township part of the project would need Centre County Planning Commission approval. A formal application has not been made.
Kotala said the project is facing strong opposition in Blair County.
By Anne Danahy
20 February 2008