BELLEVILLE – Approximately 100 residents of Mifflin County were in attendance to hear an update on the proposed wind turbine project on Jacks Mountain Tuesday night at the Locust Grove Mennonite Church, Belleville.
Laura Jackson, president of Save Our Allegheny Ridges, spoke about each of the two proposed projects and where those projects stand.
“Just because there has not been any new news, does not mean the companies have gone away,” Jackson said. “To the best of our knowledge right now, neither project has been terminated.”
The two companies, Volkswind and E.On, have industrial wind farm projects planned for Jacks and Stone mountains.
Jackson said the Volkswind project has received a permit from the Federal Aviation Administration for their 20 planned turbines.
“Through this FAA permit, we know what Volkswind plans on building,” Jackson said. “They plan on building 20 turbines each at a height of 436 feet. With other regulations in place, this would span about four miles of the mountain top.”
She also said that the testing tower for Volkswind was taken down recently.
“Normally the test towers are up for about two years, and if taken down early that could be an indication that they plan on terminating the project,” Jackson said. “They took their test tower down because it was damaged in a storm early this summer, but when I asked if they still had plans to build turbines, I was given no specific answers. They told me they are not sure if they will terminate, but as of right now the project is still being planned.”
Less is known about the E.On project, as there are no permits yet filed through the FAA, but Jackson said their project was placed on inactive status through the Pennsylvania Jersey Maryland Power Pool.
“Again this does not mean the project has been terminated by the company,” Jackson said. “It just means that they will need to reapply with the project through PJM if they wish to continue.”
Devin Pennebaker, energy research engineer at Penn State University, spoke to those in attendance about the grid PJM uses across 13 states and how much of that power is from wind energy.
“Only about less than a percent of generated energy in the entire grid is from wind energy,” Pennebaker explained. “In that less than a percent only about 13 percent is reliable wind energy.”
He also said that many times the grid does not use wind energy during peak use times.
“Looking at charts on the PJM website you can see that a lot of the time the high amounts of wind energy being used in the grid is at night, when the grid is not being used as hard,” he said.
Also speaking was Steve Dunkle, Menno Township supervisor, who spoke about the wind ordinance that Menno Township passed.
“We looked extensively at other ordinances,” Dunkle said. “We know what is best for our community and wrote our ordinance to protect our residents.”
Dunkle said copies of the ordinance are available at the township office at any time.
The meeting also included Tammy McKenzie speaking about her experience living near the Twin Ridges Wind Project in Somerset County.
“My husband and I both have had negative experiences living near these turbines,” McKenzie said. “There is shadow flicker and we have experienced sleep deprivation.”
Representatives from Volkswind and E.On were not available to come to the meeting and discuss their projects or talk to area residents.
Jackson said that she is hopeful these projects can be terminated through the continued education of the residents of Mifflin County and ordinances passed by local township officials.
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