HUDSONDALE – An international energy firm wants to build about two dozen large wind turbines atop the Broad Mountain to generate enough electricity to power about 24,500 households.
Liberty Power held an open house Tuesday evening at the Packer Twp. Municipal Building to give the public details on their plans to build a 4,000-acre wind farm at a cost of between $125 million and $145 million in the township and Nesquehoning.
About a dozen and a half message boards circled the meeting room at the municipal building as a number of Liberty power officials talked with people who attended.
The firm is proposing to construct 26 wind turbines that would generate 245,000 megawatts, or 245 million watts, of electricity.
There would be 21 large turbines. Each of two blades would be 238 feet wide, or a 476-foot diameter. The height of the hub – where the blade turns – from the ground would be 418 feet. The height from the ground to the top tip of the blade would be 656 feet.
Each floor of an office building is between 10 and 15 feet, which means 656 feet is equivalent to a building about 60 floors high. That would be placing downtown Hazleton’s tallest building, the Hayden Tower at the Markle – which is 10 floors – on top of itself six times.
Five smaller turbines would have a blade length of 189 feet, a rotor diameter of 374 feet, a hub height of 263 feet, and a height from the ground to the top tip of the blade of 452 feet.
The firm had submitted a zoning application to the township, and a zoning hearing had been scheduled for March 6. But that hearing was canceled because the firm withdrew its application and submitted a new one to Martin Cichowic, the township’s zoning officer, who is reviewing it now.
A new hearing date has not been set.
The facility would take a year to build. Construction would begin in the fourth quarter of this year and be completed by the fourth quarter of 2020.
The facility’s construction would provide between 100 and 120 jobs, with one or two full-time jobs when it goes into operation. Liberty expects the project to bring between $12 million and $15 million into the local economy. The expected life of the plant is 20 years.
According to the information displayed, zoning regulations do not allow the turbines to create any more than 50 decibels – the measure of sound – from the property line, and the turbines must be 1,000 feet from any primary residence. In comparison, a passing car would create 72 decibels 16 feet away.
Among frequently asked questions are whether wind turbines affect human or animal life, and whether they affect adjacent property values.
The federal Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy said they do not negatively affect human health, and are less likely to kill birds than birds colliding with communication and other towers, power lines or buildings.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory did a study that indicated 92 percent of people living within five miles of a wind farm did not report negative experiences.
A study done by Jennifer L. Hinman in central Illinois in 2010 of more than 50,000 home sales in nine states showed no statistical evidence that home prices near wind farms were affected.
Liberty, which lists its home office as being in Ontario, Canada, lists $10 billion in assets and already has 1.76 gigawatts, or 1.76 billion watts, of installed electrical capacity.
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