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Controversial windmill project in North East Twp. canceled

A controversial plan to construct large wind turbines in Erie County is now dead, at least for the time being. A Texas-based company has informed local landowners that it is pulling out of the project.

Back in 2013, this was a very hot issue in North East Township. Some property owners wanted to lease their land to the energy company so the company could put up the large windmills. On the other hand, many neighbors were opposed for several reasons. Now, the issue is dead.

Tim Burch is one of the property owners who was leasing his land to a company called Pioneer Green Energy. The company wanted to put large wind turbines on burch’s land. Burch, and company representatives, attended many North East Township meetings in 2013 asking for an ordinance to allow the windmills. Also attending the meetings were many neighbors who opposed the plans due to noise, ground vibrations, shadow flickers, possible soil contamination, even bird safety. Matt Putnam, and 30 others, started a citizens group called “Neighbors for a Responsible North East.” A compromise ordinance was adopted that year, but the windmills were never built.

Congress had been subsidizing the energy companies with tax credits. And, at the end of last year, that program was not renewed. So, Burch, last week, received a letter from Pioneer Green Energy. It said the company is canceling its Erie County windmill project, and the lease for his land is not being renewed.

“I really believed in it. I had faith it was going to happen. As of now, I still believe it will happen someday, whether that be a year, two years, five years, I have no idea. Right now I can’t predict that,” said Burch.

Putnam said his group is happy with the decision by Pioneer green Energy to pull out.

“Wind energy may have sounded like a good idea at one time, but what is proven now is that it is a very inefficient and expensive form of energy that’s been propped up and subsidized by government investment,” he said.

12News/ SEE news reached out to Pioneer Green Energy for its comments, but our calls were not returned.