A Federal Aviation Administration study shows 656-foot-tall wind turbines planned for the top of Broad Mountain will not negatively affect aircraft flying around them – as long as they have red lights on top of them.
However, another aviation expert said one of two small private airports in the township would be affected by the windmills.
Algonquin/Liberty Power wants to build 26 windmills – 21 of them 656 feet high and five 452 feet high – on a 4,000-acre tract atop Broad Mountain in Packer Twp. and Nesquehoning.
In a letter, Mike Helvey, manager of the Obstruction Evaluation Group for the FAA’s Southwest Regional Office in Fort Worth, Texas, said the FAA did a study on the windmills proposed for that location.
“This aeronautical study revealed that the structure would have no substantial adverse effect on the safe and efficient utilization of the navigable airspace by aircraft or on the operation of air navigation facilities,” Helvey wrote.
“Therefore … it is hereby determined that the structure would not be a hazard to air navigation provided the following conditions are met … white paint and synchronized red lights.”
The lights would be similar to the red, flashing lights atop radio and television broadcast towers, to call attention to the windmills to planes passing over them.
The law requires the lights to be added at certain milestones of height during construction of the towers. And like broadcasting towers, if the lights go out the FAA must be notified immediately.
At a zoning hearing in Packer Twp. on the project that has not yet concluded, Benjamin M. Doyle, president of Capitol Air Space Group, an expert on aviation, testified one of two private airports in Packer Twp., owned by Jan Grover, will be affected by the windmills, but the other, owned by Ken Sency, will not.
Grover told the township supervisors in March he doesn’t want the towers so close to his airport.
“I would be only 5,800 feet away,” Grover said. “They (windmills) could be deadly. They could throw off vortexes, and create turbulence for a low flight coming in for a landing. It’s not just the physical structures, it’s the invisible stuff that is dangerous.”
Will affect TV
Dennis Jimeno, a senior engineer for Comsearch, testified that after analyzing over 200 television stations, over-the-air reception of 23 of them will be affected to homes and businesses within a 6.2-mile radius of the windmills. That list includes the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton stations, as well as stations in Allentown, Harrisburg, Lancaster/York and Philadelphia.
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 stations’ signals, Jimeno said.
He said the windmills will not affect cellphone reception, radio broadcasting or cable and satellite TV reception.
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