Some 100 local residents turned out at the Tyrone Area High School auditorium last evening to listen to and gather information regarding Gamesa’s proposed 10 to 15 turbine wind farm on Tyrone Borough’s watershed property on Ice Mountain.
The over three-hour public forum was driven by Save Ice Mountain spokesperson Dr. Stan Kotala, which featured four speakers, experts in their related fields, and testimonies from two residents from the Blue Knob area where the operating Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm is located.
The evening was filled with information regarding the negative impacts of wind power development on the Allegheny Front, which includes Ice Mountain, misconceptions of wind power generation, and the lack of stringent regulations and guidelines that the wind power companies have to follow while constructing and siting a wind farm.
Every speaker last night made it clear that none of them were against wind power development, but were opposed to the irresponsible siting of wind farms. Blue Knob area residents Clair Chappell and Dr. Todd Stull spoke about their first-hand experiences of having a group of wind turbines close to their homes.
Chappell and Stull were told that the wind turbines made “no noise” when the two men first heard about the wind farm construction near their properties. Stull told the crowd that “nobody from Gamesa has ever come to my house about our complaints.”
Stull said that the wind turbine noise is especially loud at his house, by which he compared it to a jet aircraft constantly flying overhead. He said the noise isn’t there every day, but when it is there, it is very noticeable.
Chappell agreed with Stull’s noise complaints. Both residents attend Juniata Township municipal meetings on a regular basis to voice their concerns, but as Chappell stated, now that the wind turbines are built, “we’re going to have to live with it.”
“There’s very little integrity in some of these wind farm owners, and I think Tyrone needs to do their homework,” said Chappell. “Don’t follow what we did at Blue Knob. The local township supervisors were overwhelmed by the project and how it just swooped in.”
Both of the Blue Knob residents felt that turbines placed 2,000 feet away from homes was not far enough. Chappell said he believed it was the wind company’s idea to have the set back 2,000 feet from the homes at Blue Knob.
Chappell also talked about the Tyrone Borough watershed property and the value of water to the area. He said that he knows “that we shouldn’t tamper with our water supply.”
“What’s your foresight for the next generation?” asked Chappell to the crowd.
“Your forefathers purchased that land to preserve that water supply.”
Other speakers at the forum last evening included professional botanist, wildlife biologist, ecologist and natural resources policy analyst, Dan Boone. He spoke about the importance of the location of wind farms, and if the value of wind power generation in Pennsylvania is worth the destruction of the ridge tops.
Boone said that Pennsylvania would need 4,000, two megawatt, wind turbines to generate an annual amount of electricity equivalent to 10 percent of PA’s projected demand in 2030. He also stated that a big myth of wind energy is its impact on U.S. oil dependency.
“Only three percent of all U.S. oil consumption makes electricity,” said Boone.
He also said that the U.S. needs electricity the most in the summer months, and that’s when wind energy output drops off.
“I think communities are wise to wait on wind development, because the wind will always be there,” added Boone.
Laura Jackson, former science educator and present chairperson of Save Our Allegheny Ridges (SOAR), gave a presentation on “Wind Turbine Turmoil.” She said that energy companies are constructing wind turbines on Pennsylvania’s mountains, which fragments the forests, destroys wildlife habitats, and kills birds and bats.
Jackson informed the forum attendees of the social and human health issues of wind farms, such as wind projects taking away hunting grounds, the dangers of ice throws and noise issues.
She said there is much concern for wildlife also, such as rattlesnakes, song birds and wood rats.
“Wind will make hardly a difference in the fight against global warming,” said Jackson. “Let’s protect our forested ridges, it’s what we have left. We need to protect the resources that we have.”
By Kris Yaniello
27 March 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding