With a recent state Supreme Court ruling in its favor, Energy Unlimited believes its windpark project proposed for Penobscot Mountain is headed forward, but the Bear Creek Township solicitor says a previous court decision has already doomed the project.
On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court denied a petition from a citizens group opposed to the project that challenged a township zoning board ruling. The ruling essentially cemented the company’s assertion that the site near Crystal Lake “is generally a good place to put a wind farm,” said Ed Schoener, a consultant on the project.
“We still have a lot of land development issues to work out, but the zoning is finished,” he said, conceding that had the decision been reversed, the project would have been in trouble.
That’s a brighter outlook on the project than township solicitor Bill Vinsko has, even with the Supreme Court ruling. “It is dead,” he said. “I’m surprised that they think there’s still a chance for this.”
The company’s original land plan was rejected with about two dozen conditions the company had to satisfy. Before the company could submit a revised plan, the township passed a stricter windpark ordinance and said the company’s new plan would be required to follow the new ordinance. The company argued the new ordinance made its plan impossible.
Energy Unlimited is petitioning the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas to force the township to review its new plan using the old ordinance.
However, Vinsko said that argument was already denied by the Commonwealth Court. He expects the lower court to defer to the higher court’s judgment and dismiss the company’s case.
The company hopes to install 34 turbines, which would have a maximum capacity of 54 megawatts, or enough to power 16,000 homes, Schoener said. Because wind is intermittent, though, the park would likely average about a third of that maximum production.
By Rory Sweeney
24 May 2008
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