Three municipal authorities in Schuylkill County have recently decided to allow wind turbine operators to study the possibility of putting a wind farm on properties they own.
“As of right now, it’s just a study. But they’re hoping to put a straight line of turbines along Interstate 81 going from Blythe Township to New Castle Township to Cass Township,” Melanie Spittler, manager of the Minersville Municipal Water Authority, said Tuesday.
In July, the Minersville authority, which owns land in Cass Township, and the Blythe Township Water Authority, which owns land in Blythe Township, gave wind turbine operators Green Energy, Shenandoah, and EDF Renewable Energy, San Diego, Calif., permission to conduct feasibility studies, Spittler and Keith Rokosky, office manager for the Blythe Township authority, said.
On Tuesday, the Schuylkill County Municipal Authority, which owns property in New Castle Township, voted unanimously to allow Green Energy and EDF to do the study as well.
“They’re planning to pursue their own environmental studies and put up test towers to determine if their project is viable or not,” Patrick M. Caulfield, SCMA executive director, said at the authority’s August meeting.
With a motion by authority’s assistant treasurer, Franklin K. Schoeneman, the board voted unanimously to give Caulfield permission to sign the contract.
“By signing this agreement, we’re saying to them we’re prepared to continue moving forward and allow Green Energy and EDF to see if certain portions of SCMA property would be conducive to construct a wind farm on. And they’ll be doing studies. I don’t want to say it’s going to be just one study. We’re not allowing them to build. What may happen is they do the studies and decide that it’s not economically feasible for them to move forward with the construction of a wind farm, at which point that would be the end of it,” said Sudhir Patel, SCMA solicitor.
Representatives of the authorities involved have been talking to representatives of Green Energy and EDF Renewable Energy about establishing a wind farm on authority property since 2011, according to Caulfield.
“We have been collecting data for two years in Blythe and Cass and we’re going to do the environmental study to see if it’s feasible to do the wind farm. The study could stretch out two years,” Fran Green, president of Green Energy, Shenandoah.
Caulfield and Patel weren’t sure how many turbines would be part of the proposed project.
“That cannot be determined until the study is complete,” Caulfield said.
If a wind farm is established, the authorities will work out an agreement to receive a percentage of the revenue the farm generates, Caulfield said.
In other matters, SCMA wants to improve the layout and the security at the lobby of its headquarters at 221 S. Centre St., Pottsville.
“Board approval is requested to meet with Levkulic Associates to discuss alternatives to the layout of the front desk/counter. We plan to add safety glass and a more ergonomic layout for over the counter transactions,” according to the action item the board voted on, which came up during Caulfield’s report.
“We don’t have a price. We just requested authorization to come up with some alternatives. Then we’ll get estimates and quotes,” Caulfield said.
According to Caulfield, the recent shooting at Ross Township municipal building in Monroe County struck a nerve and encouraged he and his staff to evaluate security in the building.
“There are at times disgruntled customers, which any business has. But there was no specific incident which prompted this,” Caulfield said.
The authority moved into the building in 2001. Over the years, employees have complained about the layout of the front counter. The floor the clerks are on is slightly lower than the floor of the lobby where customers come in to pay their bills, Caulfield said.
“The clerks hate it and they’ve always hated it. So we want to make it more user-friendly for the girls at the front desk,” Caulfield said.
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