WEATHERLY – The 50-story windmills proposed for the top of Broad Mountain will not make a lot of noise, but they will interfere with some over-the-air televisions signals if they are built, two experts said.
About 100 people turned our for the fourth evening of a Packer Twp. zoning hearing into placing the windmills on the mountain ridge, which featured testimony from two more of the 10 expert witnesses Algonquin/Liberty Power, the windmill developer, said they are going to call to testify.
Dennis Jimeno, a senior engineer for Comsearch, who began his testimony April 29 by testifying the windmills will not interfere with microwave or emergency radio communications, testified about their effect on cellular telephones, commercial radio and television broadcasting.
While the windmills will not affect cell reception, radio broadcasting, or cable or satellite TV reception, he said after analyzing over 200 television stations, the reception of 23 stations will be affected to homes and businesses within a 6.2-mile radius of the windmills. The list includes the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton stations, as well as stations in eastern Pennsylvania – Allentown, Harrisburg, Lancaster/York and Philadelphia.
Jimeno said reception problems could also be due to a misplaced TV antenna, or a loose connection in reception equipment. He said the developers would be willing to send technicians to homes and businesses having reception problems.
Television stations now broadcast in a digital format. If they were still broadcasting in the old analog format – abandoned in 2009 – the windmills would have “wiped out” those 23 television stations, Jimeno said.
The completion of Jimeno’s testimony took about an hour, so the other two hours of Wednesday night’s hearing was taken up by the completion of testimony of Michael Hankard of Hankard Enviromental, Verona, Wisconsin, an expert on sound and noise, who began his testimony at the last hearing May 15.
Hankard testified he used topographical data and a computer model to determine the level of noise the wind turbines would produce. The calculation measured the turbines running at “full capacity.” Atmospheric conditions will affect how the sound travels, he said, but the computer model also takes atmosphere into account, Hankard said.
The Packer Twp. ordinance limits the noise level to 50 decibels at the property line, and the loudest level the model showed was 48 decibels, Hankard said.
Attorney Bruce Anders, representing 194 opponents of the project, questioned why Hankard’s report for the project was only 12 pages, while a report for a project in New York state was 99 pages.
Hankard said aside from New York state, all other projects require a report like the one he filed for the local project. New York state requires much more information than other states, Hankard said.
The turbines are designed to turn at a maximum of 22 miles per hour, despite how fast the wind might be blowing. So the larger blades on the larger turbines will have to turn less than a smaller turbine and will produce more electricity, Hankard said.
At the previous hearings, Benjamin M. Doyle, an expert on aviation, testified a private airport owned by Jan Grover will be affected by the windmills, but another airport owned by Ken Sency will not.
And Ryan Pohle of Shoner Environmental, the company’s geographic information systems manager and environmental scientist, testified about where the windmills would be placed. He used GPS technology to theoretically place where the windmills would be built.
Pohle also used the software to simulate how the turbines would look from a distance. He said they could be seen from 15,000 feet away, or about 3 miles.
The next three evenings of the hearing will be held in the Weatherly Area High School gymnasium June 12, 18 and 24, said Greg Mousseau, the Packer Twp. Zoning Board’s attorney.
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