Friday, May 23, 2008

Windmills Tilting for Fayette Land?

Fayette Commissioners heard an air-full of comments during public comment following a regular business meeting Thursday. Supporters and opponents of a proposed wind-powered energy development project to be located in an area near Laurel Caverns approached the podium one after the other to express themselves.

The county's Zoning Hearing Board, an independent body whose members are appointed by the board of commissioners, heard testimony over a month ago on whether to grant exceptions to the placement of two-dozen windmill turbines in a development project which came to be known as the South Chestnut Ridge Project.

The panel denied a special-exception request by PPM Atlantic Renewable Energy Corp. of Portland, Ore.

Subsequently, the company has appealed the decision.

According to a Herald-Standard article posted on National Wind Watch:

Company appeals wind mill decision
April 10, 2008

...The zoning board unanimously ruled in March to deny the special exception for a wind-powered, electricity-generating facility and a variance from height and setback requirements. The denial affects a significant portion of a project called the South Chestnut Windpower Project. The plan included construction of a total of 24 wind-powered turbines in Georges, Springhill and Wharton townships.

The six windmills in Wharton Township were not part of the county zoning board decision because Wharton Township has its own zoning. The Wharton Township zoning board previously gave approval for those windmills.

In the ruling, the zoning board concluded that placement of the turbines “would produce too great of a negative impact upon Fayette County’s scenic Chestnut Ridge and would generally have a detrimental effect upon the health, safety and general welfare of not only the adjacent communities, but all of Fayette County, and therefore, the request of the petitioner for special exception for a wind-powered electricity-generating facility containing 24 wind towers and variance from height and setback requirements is denied.”

In the appeal, PPM Atlantic alleges the zoning board did not follow the zoning ordinance and by denying the special exceptions and variances, the zoning board “acted arbitrarily and capriciously and not in compliance with the powers grated them pursuant to the ordinance.”

The zoning board conducted an initial hearing on Oct. 17 and then held subsequent continued hearings on Oct. 31, Dec. 19, and Jan. 30...

In action reported earlier this month, two commissioners, Chairman Vincent Zapotosky, and Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink voted to have a place at the table in the local civil suit filed by PPM Renewable Energies against the county's independent Zoning Hearing Board.

Fayette officials to join windmill dispute
By Liz Zemba
Friday, May 9, 2008

Fayette County commissioners will intervene in a civil lawsuit over proposed windmills in Georges and Springhill townships, but not necessarily because they favor or oppose the project.

Commissioners on Thursday voted 2-1 to file a notice of intervention in the lawsuit, which pits PPM Renewable Energy Corp. of Portland, Ore., against the county's zoning hearing board.

PPM, which has offices in Perryopolis, filed the civil suit last month, after the zoning board denied its request for a special exception and variances for 24 wind turbines.

The turbines were to be part of the company's South Chestnut Ridge Project, which calls for 27 wind turbines to be installed over a 3.5-mile section of Chestnut Ridge in Wharton, Georges and Springhill townships...

The South Chestnut Ridge Project, being developed by PPM Renewable Energies (now Iberdrola Renewables according to, has met with resistance from residents located near the site.

At the Commissioners' meeting, one proponent of the project noted a right to individual freedom and property rights as paramount in this country. He didn't find the specifics of the plan objectionable and believed the project's development could be beneficial to the economy of the area.

Another man spoke at length about rising costs of energy in the country, environmental and economic impact of those costs, and supported the project from the standpoint of an economic development thrust to the distressed area as well.

Their comments were followed by those of several reseidents in the area who wore T-shirts which read: Fayette TNT: Trees Not Turbines.

Windmill lawsuit dominates meeting
By Amy Zalar, Herald-Standard
Updated 05/23/2008 12:28

...Last month, PPM Atlantic Renewable Energy Corp., based in Portland, Ore., filed an appeal regarding the denial of a special exception request, saying the county zoning board improperly denied the request. The zoning ordinance allows windmills of up to 250 feet in height, but the current industry standards are now 262 feet.

The denial of a special exception for a wind-powered, electricity-generating facility and a variance from height and setback requirements affects a significant portion of a project called the South Chestnut Windpower Project. The plan included construction of a total of 24 wind-powered turbines in Georges, Springhill and Wharton townships.

Four days of testimony was held on the matter, and people both in favor of and against the project testified.

Those who testified included company officials and neighbors, as well as owners of Laurel Caverns in Wharton Township, who expressed concern that locating the windmills at the site could potentially kill the entire bat population at the caverns.

All of the windmills were to be located on land zoned A-1, agricultural/rural...

Many of the opposing comments were along the lines of a negative affect of the project on local real estate values, an intrusive audible noise level, especially at night, threat to wildlife and their habitats, and unsightliness.

Another speaker raised the preference of residents for a 1-mile distance for the setback from residential property. A couple of individuals commented a housing development was in the works, but obviously put on hold because of concerns about the wind project.

One man said he and his family would have liked to start a bed-and-breakfast but have postponed any plans pending the outcome of the appeal. He suggested many families might move from the area rather than have such disruption in their lives.

One man stated the residents don't object to the whole project and are not fighting against it as a whole. He specified three turbines were of concern to residents.

He handed the board of commissioners a Press Release (intended for the news media) which reads:


The Fayette County Zoning Board is currently debating approval of a wind turbine project starting on Laurel Cavern Road (Skyline Drive). Of the twenty-four proposed 406 foot tall turbines only three pose serious health, safety and quality of life issues for the local residents.

Turbine Number Three (3) in particular is within 3,600 feet of nine taxable residents. We as local residents are not fighting the project as a whole, on three of the twenty-four.

Please encourage your local zoning office not to approve turbines number 3, 6, and 27* (Turbines are not nunmbered consecutively)

(Fayette Trees Not Turbines)(May 22, 2008)

Material handed to us after the meeting at our request includes several pages sponsored by Save Our Allegheny Ridges (SAVE)

According to one issue of Turbine Talk 2 (3/16/07)

What can Bedford County residents do about the potential noise problem?

Ask your township supervisors to adopt an ordinance that:

limits noise of the wind turbines to 45dBA at the property line of each non-participating landowner during the day and has a maximum allowable noise of 35dBA at night.

requires the developer to pay an independent company to conduct an acoustics study before and after construction requiring a setback of 2,500 feet from the turbine to the property line of a non-participating landowner.

We'll be posting more as we gather material from both sides of the issue as that becomes available. Since the matter is in legal appeal, we'll hold off on any specific commentary about particular details of the local case. This site has not taken a position on this issue at this time.

See our sidebar for links to more information

Energy Debate: Windmill Turbines (2 Sides)

Net the Truth Online

Wind energy generation, like most technologies,
has both its advocates and its detractors. The main
source of information and support for wind energy generation is the
American Wind Energy
Association (AWEA) [19], which is the national
wind industry trade association. AWEA, along
with the rest of the wind industry, promotes wind
energy as a clean source of electricity for consumers
around the world, and works with the government
to help ensure that wind industry interests
are addressed in renewable energy legislation. It
also is a strong advocate for education, information
sharing and outreach in promoting wind
energy generation.

Alternately, there are people and groups concerned
about various issues regarding wind
energy generation. These issues include environmental
(land and water use and/or property
values), biological (flora and fauna), and avian
(birds and bats) concerns, and noise and aesthetics.
Some of these groups have recently started to
work with both the government and the wind
industry2 to address the issues previously mentioned.
In any event, an emphasis needs to be placed on
educating the public about the benefits and costs
of wind energy generation.

Wind-powered turbine company alleges bias
By Liz Zemba
Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Oregon-based company contends the Fayette County Zoning Hearing Board's rejection of its request for a special exception and variances for 24 wind-powered turbines in Georges and Springhill townships was biased.
On Wednesday, PPM Atlantic Renewable Energy Corp. of Portland asked a judge to assume jurisdiction over its request and to reverse the board's March 11 denial.

"Our concern is whether we think this issue can get a balanced hearing or consideration by the zoning hearing board," said Sam Enfield, project manager, shortly after PPM filed its appeal yesterday. "Our concern is that we could not get a fair hearing. We want a third party to take a look at how they handled the issue."

PPM, which has offices in Perryopolis, planned to use the wind turbines to produce electricity for its South Chestnut Ridge Windpower Project. According to yesterday's notice of appeal, the 24 windmills were part of a total of 27 that were to be installed over a 3.5-mile section of Chestnut Ridge in Wharton, Georges and Springhill townships.

Wharton, which has its own zoning regulations, approved the request in January. Zoning in Georges and Springhill falls under the county.
PPM requested variances so the turbines can be a total of 262.5 feet high, or 12.5 feet higher than is permitted under the county's zoning ordinance.

It wanted variances from minimum property-line setbacks for 10 of the turbines. According to the appeal, all but one of the setbacks were on properties of consenting landowners.

Enfield yesterday said PPM's request should have been approved because it met all of the county's conditions for windmills on land zoned for agricultural use, except for minimal height and setback variations...

Windmills proposed for Fayette County
GEORGES TWP. - With the state focusing more on renewable energy sources, one of the world's largest wind-generated energy producers is exploring Fayette County for a new windmill farm. A few dozen local residents turned out Tuesday evening at an open house held in Fairchance to review preliminary plans for a windmill farm on Chestnut Ridge in Georges and Wharton townships.

June 20, 2007 by Josh Krysak in Herald-Standard

GEORGES TWP. - With the state focusing more on renewable energy sources, one of the world's largest wind-generated energy producers is exploring Fayette County for a new windmill farm.

A few dozen local residents turned out Tuesday evening at an open house held in Fairchance to review preliminary plans for a windmill farm on Chestnut Ridge in Georges and Wharton townships.

The project, under the direction of PPM Energy, based in Portland, Ore., would utilize 25 state-of-the-art wind turbine generators to produce enough power to meet the electricity needs of 17,500 homes.

Only six of the turbines would be located in Wharton Township, with the remaining 19 located in Georges Township.

Governor Ed Rendell
April 24, 2006


Governor Edward G. Rendell today unveiled a model ordinance that will help Pennsylvania’s local governments decide how to direct the location and development of wind turbines within municipal borders.

“Wind turbines are playing a central role in building Pennsylvania’s clean energy future by helping to keep our economy growing and our environment clean,” Governor Rendell said in a keynote speech at the annual convention of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS).

“This ordinance strikes a balance that ensures continued investments in advanced energy technologies, protects the quality of life for residents and reinforces Pennsylvania’s position as a national energy leader,” Governor Rendell said. “Ensuring we have the resources to continue to grow is all the more important as concerns about energy become more pressing.”

Governor Rendell’s leadership in bringing together concerned parties to draft the ordinance represents a national model that other states can follow to protect communities and help wind developers.

The model ordinance represents the collaborative efforts of state and local governments with the private sector. Participants included PSATS, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, environmental advocacy group PennFuture, and wind energy development companies Community Energy, FPL Energy, PPM Energy and Gamesa Corp.

Stakeholders began meeting last fall to craft the model ordinance. The ordinance is designed as a template that local governments can adjust to their specific needs. Issues addressed in the model ordinance include visual appearance of wind turbines and related infrastructure, sound levels, shadow flicker, minimum property setbacks, interference with communications devices, protection of public roads, liability insurance, decommissioning and dispute resolution.

Public comment and involvement are intended to be part of the local implementation of the ordinance.

Press Release -- Noise
Noise Complaints On Rise with New Industrial Wind Power Projects
National Wind Watch calls for minimum 1-mile setbacks

...The French National Academy of Medicine has called for a halt of all large-scale wind development within 1.5 kilometers of any residence, because the sounds emitted by the blades constitute a permanent risk for people exposed to them. The U.K. Noise Association studied the issue and agreed with the recommendation of a 1-mile setback.

In the U.S., the National Wind Coordinating Committee could not avoid the conclusion that "those affected by noise generated by wind turbines live within a few miles of a large wind power plant or within several thousand feet of a small plant or individual turbine. Although the noise at these distances is not great, it nevertheless is sufficient to be heard indoors and may be especially disturbing in the middle of the night when traffic and household sounds are diminished."

National Wind Watch calls on the commercial wind industry to respect the people who reside in targeted development regions, to honor their right to healthy lives and peaceful enjoyment of their homes, by adopting meaningful setbacks -- measured in miles, not in feet.

Friday, June 29, 2007
Another Wind Farm Petition Reaches County Clerk’s Desk
The following article by reporter Kaley Lyon was printed in the Hays Daily News on June 29, 2007:

...The objective of the petition is not to protest wind energy as a whole, but to request assessments prior to decision-making, Michaud said.

“We’re not saying no to wind energy,” he said. “We’re saying that the zoning board is supposed to have a comprehensive plan in place for such a development, and they do not.”

The citizen petition requests four assessments be completed: an assessment of net economic impact, fair and equitable compensation packages for affected landowners, environmental hazards and community liability.

County Clerk Alberta Klaus said the petition will be delivered to Ellis County commissioners on Monday...

Monday, June 25, 2007
Why it's not in the best interest of Ellis County, city of Hays, or local residents

After doing a bit of research regarding wind turbines, I believe all of us residing in Ellis County need to be involved in making the decision of whether or not we should permit a wind turbine facility to be located 5 miles from the city of Hays. I am an advocate of wind and solar power. I believe wind power is an excellent manner in which to generate electricity.

But, I do not believe it is in the best interest of Ellis County and the city of Hays to have this facility within 5 miles of our community.

I especially do not believe it is safe for landowners to live within 1 to 2 miles of the wind turbines.

The literature available on the medical consequences related to “wind turbine syndrome” indicate there are numerous symptoms reported by inhabitants living in close proximity to the wind turbines. The long-term effects due to constant exposure to low-frequency noise generated by wind turbines is not fully and completely known. Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine lists the symptoms from this syndrome as: chronic sleep disturbances, nausea, problems with concentration and learning, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), exhaustion, anxiety, irritability and depression.

In susceptible individuals, wind turbines have been noted to cause vertigo (sensation of spinning or turning), imbalance, motion sickness, nausea and triggering of seizures...

Pennsylvania Model Ordinance

Search results

Material Added Periodically here

Protocol for Determining the Feasibility of InstallingDedicated Wind Energyin Pennsylvania Rural CommunitiesbyRobert Weissbach, Ph.D., and James Sonnenmeier, Ph.D.,Penn State Erie, The Behrend CollegeMay 2008

National Wind Coordinating Collaborative

U.S. Federal Wind Energy Sites

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