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Turbines turning: Adams, Summerhill wind farm goes on grid

PATTON – Site preparation for a 30-turbine wind farm in northern Cambria County has started and the blades on a wind farm in the central part of the county are now spinning, but similar projects planned to the south and the east have been shelved.

EverPower Wind Holdings Inc. reported Monday that the Highland North project in Adams and Summerhill townships is now generating and supplying electricity to the power grid.

“Also we have broken ground on the Patton Wind Farm,” said Dan Lagiovane, project communications manager for EverPower. “Access roads are being worked on as we speak.”

The news is not so good for Iberdrola Renewables Inc., of Portland, Ore., with a company official confirming Monday that it is scrapping plans to develop the Dunnings Mountain project a 24 turbine farm in the planning since 2005 for a mountain range running from Bedford to New Enterprise in Bedford County.

The project was to put turbines on Dunnings, Evitts and Brumbaugh mountain ranges.

Also being scrapped are plans to build the Clover Run project located between Grampian and Luthersburg in Clearfield County.

Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said the decision to shelve the projects was largely due to the economy and lack of action by Congress to extend legislation that provides tax credits for this type of renewable energy efforts.

“I can confirm that we have communicated with the folks we had executed leases with and indicated we’re not carrying through with the projects,” Copleman said. “We’ve terminated the leases.”

With the EverPower projects, the Patton Wind Farm is being developed on a 2,700-acre stretch of farmland spanning Elder, West Carroll and East Carroll townships. It is a 17 turbine project that has involved efforts of local farmers Martin and Rick Yahner and other landowners.

Plans are to have the windmills operational by the end of the year, Lagiovane said.

The Highland North project is 32 turbines spanning the ridge top overlooking Adams and Summerhill townships. The Highland project, a 25-windmill site also owned by EverPower in Adams Township has been operational since 2009.

Along with the economy playing into Iberdrola’s decision, Copleman said are the low energy prices and government regulatory issues.

The company plans to focus its attention on its existing fleet of 50 renewable energy projects from coast to coast, he said.

Iberdrola’s decision is being applauded by members of Save Our Allegheny Ridges (SOAR.)

SOAR founder and president Laura Jackson of Bedford County said she knew something was in the works regarding the Bedford County projects a few weeks ago.

“I got calls from residents in the Dutch Corner area that the four test towers had been taken down,” she said.

The meteorological towers, used to measure wind speed, have been on the mountain since 2005 and usually are not removed until permitting is in place and the project is ready to move forward.

Other planned wind farms that have not already been started could be impacted because of Congress’ failure to extend the Production Tax Credits, a renewable energy effort in place for the past several years, which covers a portion of the cost of project construction.

The existing legislation expires Dec. 31 and wind turbine supporters have tried and failed on four occasions to get the deadline extended, Jackson said.

But Jackson is convinced Iberdrola’s decision to scrap Dunning’s Mountain was also influenced by concern that it would encounter permitting problems because of the historic significance of the Dutch Corner area outside Bedford.

The area, which includes Evitts Mountain, was awarded a “rural historic district” designation in 2007 by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission Bureau for Historic Preservation.

Concerns of the many Dutch Corner residents were that industrial energy development along the ridge line would severely compromise the qualities that made the designation possible, she said.