An international firm has proposed building a massive wind turbine farm on Broad Mountain in Packer Twp. and Nesquehoning.
On Aug. 16, Broad Mountain Power applied to the township to build a 7,000-acre windmill farm that would be made up of 21 to 30 windmills ranging in size from 480 to 650 feet high, with an approximate rotor diameter of 360 feet to 492 feet. The turbines would generate 80 to 90 megawatts of power. 80 megawatts of electricity would power 64,000 households.
Broad Mountain Power, which listed its address as Milford, Delaware, is a subsidiary of Algonquin Power, doing business as Liberty Power.
This is the third proposal for windmills in the same area. Jay Gartlan, a wind energy developer, has been involved in two of the proposals.
Four years ago, Gartlan said a firm called Creative Solutions of Washington, D.C., New York City and Hawaii, applied to build a wind farm on 3,500 acres that would have generated 180 to 200 megawatts of power. But that proposal was different, Gartlan said.
In 2011, Enercon LLC, Gartlan’s firm, appeared before the supervisors and a group of residents to talk about a proposed $250 million project to erect wind turbines to generate electricity on about 3,500 acres. That proposal was similar, and was expected also to generate 180 to 200 megawatts. Gartlan proposed to build turbines which would have been 50 to 80 feet high on the parcel, as opposed to the 200-foot high turbines on Locust Mountain in Mahanoy and West Mahanoy townships.
“There were more units (windmills) in that proposal,” Gartlan said. “And they would have been more densely placed.”
But neither of those projects went beyond a proposal.
The current application was denied by Martin Cichowic, the township’s building code officer, who said most of the land is located on Dennison Road in the township.
Broad Mountain Power has 30 days to appeal the Aug. 19 denial to the township zoning hearing board.
Cichowic denied the application because of a lack of information about the exact location and ownership of the land, the zoning districts, floodplain management, licenses, insurances, and accessory structures and buildings.
The property owners are listed in the application as Kovatch Enterprises, 3,500 acres; Hazleton Electric Co., 2,000 acres; and Russell Postupack, 1,500 acres, Cichowic said.
In the denial letter, Cichowic wrote the address lists “only Dennison Road as its location, but also identifies plus or minus 7,000 acres. More precise information is required that would identify the tax parcels that are included in this project – as well as detailed ownership as opposed to the vague supplied list of property owners.”
The application is confusing as to whether Algonquin is proposing 21 to 30 wind turbines or wind farms, and does not properly identify the zoning districts that would be included in the project, Cichowic also said.
According to Broad Mountain’s application, the turbines will sit on gravel pads. The construction also includes underground electrical collector lines, an operation and maintenance building, a substation, a switching station and “a network of” access roads for the wind farm, which will be built on private land.
The electrical connector system will connect each turbine to a proposed substation that will transfer electricity from the project onto the transmission network.
According to Algonquin, they own or have interests in a variety of North American-based contracted wind, solar, hydroelectric and natural gas generating facilities with more than 1,500 megawatts of installed capacity.
Gartlan said Algonquin already has a wind farm in Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, is familiar with Pennsylvania and is part of the PJM Interconnect, as is PPL.
The distribution group, Liberty Utilities, operates in the United States and provides rate-regulated water, electricity and natural gas utility services to more than 760,000 customers. The transmission group invests in rate-regulated electric transmission and natural gas pipeline systems in the United States and Canada.
Packer Twp. formed an electrical cooperative with Nesquehoning, in which the municipalities will buy their power in bulk and the savings will go back to the communities rather than to a private company.
Packer Twp. and Nesquehoning officials have always maintained the cooperative and windmill issues are separate.
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