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Windmill hearing continues today

The ninth evening of a zoning hearing into a proposal to build almost two dozen, 50-story windmills atop Broad Mountain in Packer Twp. will be today at 6 p.m. at Weatherly Area High School.

Attorney Brian P. Stahl, representing Algonquin/Liberty Power, doing business as Broad Mountain Power, said the firm will present 10 expert witnesses during the zoning hearing.

Stahl was one of a half-dozen attorneys representing Algonquin/Liberty who questioned witnesses at the hearings. Attorney Bruce Anders, representing 194 opponents of the project, also questioned the witnesses.

To date, eight of 10 experts have testified:

■ Dennis Jimeno, a senior engineer for Comsearch, testified while the windmills will not affect cellphone 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 10-kilometer, or 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.

■ Benjamin M. Doyle, president of Capitol Air Space Group, an expert on aviation, testified one of two private airports owned by Jan Grover will be affected by the windmills, but the other, owned by Ken Sency, will not.

■ Ryan Pohle of Shoner Environmental, the company’s GIS manager and environmental scientist, testified about where the windmills would be placed. Pohle said 21 turbines would be located across the mountain ridge. while five smaller ones may also be constructed. He said they could be seen from 15,000 feet away, or about three miles.

■ William Schneider, director of engineering for Shoener Environmental, testified there are no anticipated negative impacts to surface water or groundwater features related to this project.

■ Michael Hankard, of Hankard Enviromental, Verona, Wisconsin, an expert on sound and noise, testified he used topographical data and a computer model to determine the level of noise the wind turbines would produce. 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.

■ Dr. Jim Salmon, President, Zephyr North in Burlington, Ontario, testified that during icing events, which should only occur on an average of only seven days per year, that the turbines’ icing detection system should put the turbines into an ice alarm state, shut them down and put them into a standstill position.

Salmon also testified about shadow flicker, which refers to the moving shadows that an operating wind turbine may cast at certain times of the day when the turbine rotor is between the sun and a receptor’s position.

He testified there are no human health impacts caused by shadow flicker from wind turbines, and in particular by the proposed Broad Mountain wind farm.

■ Jack Coyle, President, Coyle, Lynch & Co., said he had studied what happened to property values after the construction of wind farms in two areas with similar characteristics as the Packer Twp. and Nesquehoning areas. The study and expert concluded that the siting of a wind turbine farm does not have an adverse impact on the selling prices of residences and vacant land parcels in its vicinity.

■ Ian MacRobbie, vice president, operations, Liberty Resources, testified on how wind turbines operate and how they are maintained, as well as required emergency response plans.