I, along with about 270 other people, attended the meeting on wind turbines on Friday evening, Jan. 10, at Locust Grove Mennonite Church. The positive spin put on placing wind turbines on Jacks and Stone mountains by Mr. Stout from E.ON, left me and surely many others hopeful that his stated “end solution” is in fact realized. Mr. Stout stated that he “would like to see an end solution that is the best solution for all involved.”
The very positive spin of Mr. Stout, does not stand the test of truth and accuracy when applied to the turbines to be used on our mountains, and the effect they will have on the lifestyle and character of our area of Pennsylvania. Mr. Stout’s statement that wind speed in our area is just over 7 m/s, which translates to 15.6 mph requires scrutiny. No one would question the fact that such wind speeds could be measured on our mountains. However, such information is not helpful when it comes to operating wind turbines for electricity production. The turbines will be on the mountains 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for 30 years. Helpful information is the average annual wind speed for the area. Mr. Stout, downplayed and tried to nullify the National Renewable Energy Laboratories data which says that our average annual wind speed is 4 to 4.5 m/s or 9 to 10 mph. He said that the NREL data was not specific enough. When one looks at the NREL map for Pennsylvania, you see that the data is very specific and very detailed to small dots of different speeds. Mr. Stout’s statement that some data from NREL is used by E.ON confirms that selectivity to serve a purpose is a tactic they use.
Many other topics were discussed with the same positive twist, e.g. wind turbines are friendly and helpful to wildlife. Fact: wind turbines are not allowed on state game lands and state forests in Pennsylvania. The danger to bats and birds is minimal. How many dead bats and birds are acceptable on our mountain tops?
Mr. Stout assured that the threat to the water table is controlled by the company. The company requirement specifies control for the footprint of the tower only, not streams and springs down the mountain.
While Mr. Stout acknowledged there is noise generated by the turbines, he claimed it is not harmful or threatening to human health. This claim disputes contradictory evidence from Garrett County, Md., that was presented at the meeting.
Another erroneous claim was that property values near wind turbines are not adversely impacted. Near is a relative term that has very different meaning in Texas, where Mr. Stout is from, than it does in Pennsylvania. Also, this claim contradicts actual data showing double digit percentage declines in property value and difficulty in selling property near turbines.
A very prominent topic at the meeting was the Production Tax Credit, PTC, that wind electric generating companies receive from the United States government for each unit of energy produced. This subject was clouded and probably not understood by many when Mr. Stout stated, “all energy companies receive tax incentives.” It is true that energy companies do receive tax incentives. However, wind produced electricity is the only product of the major electricity producers to receive a PTC. Coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear produced electricity do not receive this tax incentive for each unit of energy produced. In spite of the denial, this credit is a major motivation for wind energy producing companies in trying to find places to put wind turbines.
Will the outcome truly be a win-win situation for all involved as Mr. Stout proclaimed, or is this another distortion not based on the reality of the transformational effect wind turbines will have on our mountains and the people of this area?
A true winning outcome will protect the bats, the birds, wildlife, the water resources, the health of our citizens, property values, the natural beauty that attracts tourists and recreational activities, and the beauty that God created for all of us to enjoy.
How sure are you that such an outcome will be our heritage? Now is the time to get involved, to let our township supervisors know that they should not be fearful in carrying out their responsibility in regulating the building and construction of any wind turbines and to do this in a way that promotes the welfare of the community, concerning all the aspects mentioned above. Township supervisors have an obligation to meet with the citizens of their township. Act now!
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