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In My Opinion By Kris Yaniello

The time is fast approaching for borough residents to cast their vote for Gamesa’s proposed 30-year lease agreement to place 10 to 15 wind turbines on Tyrone Borough watershed property atop Ice Mountain. Although the survey is non-binding to borough council, I would bet that it will influence our council members.
Save Ice Mountain collected over 1,400 signatures of those opposed to the project who live in the 16686 ZIP code, and council wants to know how many of those people are registered borough voters – well, this survey can’t be anymore direct.
In Saturday’s Herald, and today, there was a full page advertisement from Gamesa urging borough residents to consider the proposed wind farm. There have been a mountain of letters to the editor from residents and organizations who ask that borough voters say “no” to the project.
The borough wanted/wants to publish a “fact sheet” on Gamesa’s project in the newspaper, but I think council found it difficult to give the facts when one side or the other can easily dispute those facts.
So, what are the facts?
The money side of it is somewhat factual, and I only say “somewhat” because who knows if it will change again. Presently, Gamesa is offering $7,500 per turbine per year during its Operation Period. The monies could increase if the gross electricity revenue is higher. It’s proposed that the borough would earn 3.5 percent for the first 10 years, 4 percent the following 10 years, and 4.5 percent the last ten years – if that is higher than the $7,500 per turbine per year.
The money the borough would generate over 30 years would approximately be three to four million dollars. Those monies could be used for anything in the borough to help the community and its residents, not just funneled into the water department.
As for the construction of a wind farm on Ice Mountain, it has been said that 14 to 15 miles of heavy-duty roads would need to be cleared. Gamesa says that nine miles of road already exists, but that’s all in how you word it. Are the nine miles of existing road already wide enough to take a one million pound crane through the woods? I doubt it.
There is also footprint clearing for the turbines, which Gamesa stated each site will only clear around 0.8-0.9 acres. Some think that number is higher. I don’t think Gamesa will know how much exactly they would have to clear until they actually start clearing the footprints.
Then you have the birds and bats. It is true, wind turbines kill birds and bats – even our bald and golden eagles. For a long time I didn’t think much of it, but a few weeks ago I was driving on the new I-99 to State College and it was real foggy – I couldn’t even see the mountain tops. The same goes with a low-cloud ceiling. If I can’t see the mountain tops, I imagine the birds can’t either and could fly right into the turbine blades.
But, what would happen to all those birds and bats if we keep letting our world deteriorate as it is? I would imagine that continued ozone destruction and rapid temperature increases would be much more harmful than turbine blades.
There is the issue of turbine noise. Anyone who attended Senator Eichelberger’s town hall meeting or the Save Ice Mountain public forum, you’ve heard Dr. Todd Stull’s testimony of the noise he and his wife endure at the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm in Blue Knob. Gamesa says noise will not be an issue for the Ice Mountain project, and the company has conducted tests to make sure of it.
As for the wind farm project affecting our water supply, there’s no evidence of that. The problem is, there’s no evidence that it won’t either. That is an obvious risk.
I don’t have the space in the paper to write about all the issues and concerns, nor do I have the space to write about the positives of clean energy such as wind. I read letters about how our proposed wind farm will have a minimal impact with its produced electricity, and yes that is true, but when and where are we suppose to start.
We won’t get one jolt of the electricity the Sandy Ridge Wind Farm will produce, but whose to say that someday we won’t benefit from a wind farm somewhere else, or some other source of alternative energy.
Tyrone’s not omitted from helping the world clean itself up, but we shouldn’t rush into something that doesn’t need to be. Perhaps there’s another place for a wind farm in Tyrone, or a place for another clean energy source. Maybe a wind farm belongs on Ice Mountain.
I do know one fact for sure: If we don’t start doing something, whether in a larger scale or smaller, we or our kids and their kids might not have a world to live in. Watch Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth; global warming isn’t a myth. I just hope we don’t wait to do something until our coastlines are 6 feet under water due to glacier melting and Greenland’s quickening melting pace.
Maybe a wind farm in Tyrone won’t save the world, but it’s the collective alternative energy sources being utilized everywhere that will. If we don’t start with a wind turbines here, I think we should start looking into something that will benefit the human race no matter how small.
That’s just my opinion.