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Expert: Proposed wind turbines in Penn Forest Township would harm environment

JIM THORPE, Pa. – A proposed wind turbine farm in Penn Forest Township would lower water quality in the Penn Forest and Wild Creek reservoirs, a hydrogeologist testified Thursday at a zoning hearing packed with residents opposed to the plan.

Pamela Dodds, Ph.d., said the proposal, if approved, would deforest at least 292 acres, create an impervious cover of about 16 miles of access roads and jeopardize the exceptional water quality of the nearby Wild Creek.

Based on those findings, Dodds said the project, which includes plans for 37 wind turbine towers 525 feet high, would violate the township zoning ordinances intended to protect water resources, while increasing storm water run off, sediment and stream bank erosion.

“The proposed Atlantic Wind facility area of deforestation is approximately seven times that which was proposed for the pipeline right-of-way, which the authority deemed unacceptable,” Dodds said in her report to the board.

Iberdrole Renewable, doing business as Atlantic Wind, is seeking approval from the township to build the turbines on a swath of land leased from the Bethlehem Authority.

The company has said the turbines would generate 80 megawatts of “clean energy” to surrounding homes.The plan has received the backing of the Sierra Club.

Before the hearing began, opponents of the plan lined up in the parking lot outside the township fire hall, talking down the project while others sold $10 yard No Wind Turbine signs, reading: “Not Clean, Not green, Not for Penn Forest.”

Nicholas Martori, one of the proponents, said, “Why would you want something as high as the Washington Monument,” in your neighborhood.

About 150 township residents attended the meeting.

Testimony is expected to continue at its next meeting.