More than a half-decade has passed since an international energy giant first revealed a plan to build a series of massive wind turbines on high-altitude farmland not far from Ulysses.
While the controversy lost momentum the past several years and the project slipped into apparent dormancy, it has remained on the drawing board for AES Corporation, according to company vice president Bob White.
“I can tell you that the project is still on the table,” White told Endeavor News. “But I can’t give you a timetable for ground-breaking or any other details.”
There are signs that this could be the year the electrical generating plant becomes a reality. A 24- page document outlining road bonding, bid scheduling, pad construction and delivery of turbines was left behind in a cafe. The schedule in it called for events to begin last month (Dec. 2012).
If it does get the green light, a flurry of activity will be seen in the region – everything from land clearing and other site preparation to widening of intersections to provide turning radius for the machines as they arrive on Pa. Rt. 49.
Once it’s complete, the rural landscape traditionally associated with crops and cattle will be dotted by tall, white towers and with massive triple-blades, some equipped with blinking red lights.
Details are sketchy, but according to the website of an AES consultant (TRC Solutions), plans call for the construction of 67 wind turbines and associated facilities within approximately 11,200 acres of leased land in Ulysses and Hector townships.
AES said that number of turbines will be enough to power about 26,000 homes, given the wind patterns in northern Potter County.
A consulting firm contracted by AES has been helping the company navigate through the permitting process.
Additional snags are inevitable. Just last month, the Potter County Local Emergency Planning Committee voiced concern over the impact of the turbines on transmissions between the 9-1-1 communications towers. The issue is being investigated.
An even larger obstacle for AES has remained in limbo in Washington, D.C. Federal tax incentives have fueled wind energy projects across the country.
Members of a citizens group that formed to fight the Fox Hill project, calling themselves “Save God’s Country,” expressed disappointment this week that the Production Tax Credit subsidizing wind energy has been extended in legislation now before Congress.
AES officials have been negotiating “host agreements” with Ulysses and Hector townships. Incentives were appealing enough to prompt those boards to enact their own Subdivision and Land Development Ordinances. The documents were identical to the county’s ordinance, with the exception of the wind-based electrical generation provisions.
Potter County’s ordinance contained a clause that prohibited noise emissions from the turbines beyond a volume level in two frequencies. AES protested those regulations and persuaded the two townships to adopt regulations that were less restrictive. Under Pennsylvania law, the municipal regulations – if less restrictive – supersede the county’s ordinance.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding