- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Fire response, balloons discussed at wind farm hearing

More residents are showing interest in Broad Mountain Power’s windmill project proposed for private property atop the hill in western Packer Township, adjacent to Nesquehoning.

This week, more than 80 people attended the zoning board hearing with almost 30% from Nesquehoning and Lake Hauto.

Ian MacRobbie, vice president of operations for Liberty Power, the developer, testified about the operation of the wind farm, including where an employee truck would be based, a gate, a firefighter’s lock, a fire plan and decommissioning after the project’s life span, likely more than 30 years.

The employee would be on call 24 hours a day. On decommissioning, he explained the turbines are removed and the concrete bases are excavated down to 4 feet deep, then covered.

The only access onto the property for firefighters is Dennison Road from Nesquehoning. Weatherly area responders have asked that an extension to Fire Tower Road be considered, so that any emergency response from the north can come in atop the Broad Mountain, and arrive on site in a timely manner.

Packer Township attorney Robert Yurchak asked why only the Citizens Fire Company of Weatherly has reviewed the fire plan, since Nesquehoning will be closest. MacRobbie said the plan was sent to the Nesquehoning fire company, but there’s been no response.

Attorney Greg Mousseau, attorney for the zoning hearing board, asked what would burn if there’s a fire.

MacRobbie answered, “Gear oil … fiberglass … and electric insulation. … There are 700 liters of gear oil in the unit (about 185 gallons).”

In a unit fire, firefighters would establish a perimeter and watch the unit until it burns out.

Packer resident William Knepper asked MacRobbie to look into electronic interference with medical devices, and whether “lethal spores” would be released into the air during construction.

The turbines would be the tallest installed on a wind farm so far. The answer by MacRobbie was that contractors would use “manufacturer’s protocols.”

During a discussion on the flying of balloons to the height of the turbines, it was learned that only four will be put up for a short time early in the morning “when conditions are right.” Notice will be given when they are set to go.

Residents complained there are not enough balloons. There were requests from the Hauto group to get photos from their side of the project. One person from the Hauto group asked for a photo to be taken from the middle of the lake.

Ryan Pohle, of Schoener Environmental, Dickson City, explained shadow flicker mapping results. His map shows projected results over a year, to sites within a distance of 10 times the diameter of the turbine blades – involving 80 structures in Packer Township. None of the Hauto structures were close enough to be in the zone.

Attorney Bruce Anders, representing some 200 people opposing the plan, questioned the health effects, and the nuisance of shadow flickering. He tried to interject reports of health impacts – met with objection from the BMP attorneys – then tried again, to more objections. It was established that Pohle is not a health expert and the map is an estimate.

The next hearing is at 6 p.m. Monday in the Weatherly Area High School gymnasium.