Educating People About the Impact of Industrial Development
Friends of Bedford County Mountains Chapter: Located in Bedford County, PA
In 2019, CPV Kettle Wind approached 3 townships that intersect on the top of Dunning/Evitt’s Mountain in Bedford County: Bedford, South Woodbury, and East St. Clair. The western side of the mountain and valley below are listed in the National Registry as the Dutch Corner Historic Agricultural District due to its historic and scenic character. A portion of the mountain is also designated as a Natural Heritage Area of global significance. The affected community is implementing a plan to save this ecological and historically rich area.
History Regarding Wind Development on Dunning/Evitt’s Mountain: Iberdrola Wind Project
Since this part of Dunning/Evitt’s Mountain is privately owned, various wind companies have tried to build turbine projects since 2003. Concerns over the damage caused by wind turbine construction were the impetus for the formation of SOAR in 2006.
Residents on both sides of the mountain fought from 2005 to 2012, hoping to stop Iberdrola from building wind turbines along the top of the narrow, rocky mountain. Property boundary disputes delayed construction and in 2012 Iberdrola terminated the project, citing uncertainty in the federal tax credit policies.
A grant obtained from Sierra Club funded a study by avian biologist Dr. Trish Miller who researched potential impacts that wind turbines on Jacks Mountain might pose for Golden Eagles. Her 2015 research report found that “Proposed wind turbines that were sited in the study area were located along the summit of Jacks Mountain. An additional project has been proposed in similar settings further down Jacks Mountain and along the summit of Stone Mountain.
We found that turbines sited along Jacks Mountain occurred in the two highest quality resource classes of Golden Eagles and none were sited in areas that were not strongly selected by eagles. This suggests that turbines sited on Jacks Mountain and probably on ridgetops in this region would have some negative effects on both migratory and wintering Golden Eagles.”
Penn Forest Chapter: Located in Penn Forest Township in Carbon County, PA
April 2020: The Carbon County Court of Common Pleas ruled in favor of the residents trying to protect their mountains and watershed. The Judge ruled that Atlantic Wind could not prove they would be able to meet the ordinance requirements regarding noise limits and that a wind project would create a second principal use on Bethlehem Authority’s land, which is leased to Atlantic Wind.
The fight is not over, though, since Atlantic Wind filed a second application on Feb. 5, 2018 to build a wind project in most of the same area, but with fewer turbines that would only affect Pohopoco and Call Mountains. The Penn Forest Zoning Hearing Board denied that application on Jan. 30, 2019. Atlantic Wind’s appeal is before the same judge and we hope he will use the same legal decisions to deny this second application.
Residents convinced the Penn Forest Township supervisors to draft a more restrictive ordinance that will make it more difficult for any wind company to obtain a Special Exception.
The Penn Forest Wind Project is listed as Suspended Queue AA2-017 E. Palmerton-Acahela 69 kV (98 MW) on the PJM Grid.
In 2018, residents in Penn Forest organized the Wild Creek Watershed Coalition, which is composed of private citizens, businesses, and organizations that are either concerned or opposed to the proposed wind turbine projects in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.
Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society
Jim Thorpe Borough Council Proclamation
Juniata Valley Audubon Society
Lehigh Valley Audubon Society
Maryland Ornithological Society
Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology
Timeline of Events
- April 1, 2016: Atlantic Wind applies for a Special Exception to build a wind turbine project in Penn Forest Township.
- May 12, 2016: Zoning Hearing Board hears Atlantic Wind’s 1st Application in Penn Forest Township.
- May 9, 2017: Atlantic Wind sends a letter to residents declaring a “Deemed Approval” for the 1st Application.
- June 17, 2017: Penn Forest Township Zoning Board Denies Atlantic Wind, LLC’s zoning application for Special Exceptions.
- June 20, 2017: Bethlehem Authority, which leased its lands to Atlantic Wind, files as an intervener.
- July 6, 2017: Two residents filed a protective appeal to the deemed decision.
- December 29, 2017: The deemed approval was upheld in County Court, but the Notice of Appeal and the grounds set forth to preserve the Objectors’ right to argue the merits of the case.
- February 5, 2018: Atlantic Wind’s 2nd Application is submitted to Penn Forest Township.
- January 30, 2019: Penn Forest Township Zoning Board denies Atlantic Wind’s 2nd Application.
- February 28, 2019: Bethlehem Authority and Atlantic Wind, LLC file an appeal to the Zoning Board’s decision to deny the 2nd Application.
- March 25, 2019: Forty-two property owners petition to intervene in support of Penn Forest’s Zoning Board’s January 30, 2019 decision to deny the 2nd Application
- July 17, 2019: Bethlehem sues the Palmerton Fishing and Hunting Association, an adjacent property owner, over boundary disputes.
- April 21, 2020: The Court of Common Pleas of Carbon Co. rules that Atlantic Wind’s Deemed Approval for the 1st Application is vacated and that the Application of Atlantic Wind, LLC for a Special Exception is denied.
Save Broad Mountain Chapter: Located in Packer Township in Carbon County
Zoning Hearing Board hearings will soon be over and then the ZHB will decide the fate of Broad Mountain Power’s Special Exception application to build 22 wind turbines up to 656 feet tall on Broad Mountain - a major scenic landmark in Packer Township. Broad Mountain is the source of 5 exceptional value watersheds and 3 high-quality watersheds that would be damaged by development. Residents are working hard to protect their treasured trout streams; donations are desperately needed.
For more details see the Save Broad Mountain website: https://savebroadmountain.com
Save Laurel Ridge Chapter: Located in Cambria and Somerset Counties
The short-lived plan in late 2018 by Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) to build turbines on the watershed owned by the Greater Johnstown Water Authority was quickly squashed by organized residents and Rep. Frank Burns. Upper Yoder Township Supervisors are revising the ordinance to better regulate industrial development.
Save Shaffer Mountain Again Chapter: Located in Somerset County
Shaffer Mountain is an area of the Allegheny Front in Bedford and Somerset Counties. It is home to the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch, scenic overlooks, and bogs containing rare plants. It is also part of the Clear Shade and Piney Creek watersheds, some of the finest trout fisheries in the state due to their exceptional water quality.
A project planned for Berwind’s property (over 10,000 acres) on the Allegheny Front was quietly withdrawn from the PJM Grid by Invenergy in 2019. Three test towers were also removed, but the company has never publicly acknowledged the termination. Shade Township did amend its ordinance to provide better protection for residents, but Ogle Township refused to do so.
A new transmission line built by First Energy heightens the risk for future wind development. The Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society maintains a hawk watch on Shaffer Mountain, which is renowned for its large numbers of migrating Golden Eagles. The Allegheny Front is still at risk!
The Allegheny Front Hawk Watch, private property on the Allegheny Front in the area called Shaffer Mountain in Bedford County, has been recording migration data since 1998.
The Allegheny Front Hawk Watch holds several records for golden eagles for the Eastern Flyway, including the one-day record of 74 golden eagles counted on October 24, 2015 (Allegheny Front Hawk Watch held the previous record with 65 golden eagles set in 2012); the fall seasonal record of 320 golden eagles in 2018; and the total year count of 386 golden eagles in 2015.
In the fall of 2018, Franklin Mt. shattered these records with a staggering 128 Golden Eagles counted on October 25, 2018, helping them end the season with three birds higher than the Allegheny Front’s 320 records.
More information and directions to the hawk watch are here.
History Regarding Wind Development on Shaffer Mountain: Gamesa Wind Project
In 2006, Gamesa leased 22,000 acres from Berwind and private landowners in order to build a 30 turbine, 60 MW wind project. Residents organized the Save Shaffer Mountain Chapter of SOAR and proceeded to fight the project for 6 more years until Gamesa terminated the project in 2012.
The early efforts to protect Shaffer Mountain and its watersheds are summarized here: http://www.paflyfish.com/forums/Open-Forums/Conservation/Windmills-and-wilderness-trout-streams-in-Somerset-Co-/6,3560.html
Pre-construction studies by Bat Conservation and Management revealed the presence of a federally endangered Indiana Bat maternity colony directly in the middle of the wind project. In 2011, the US Fish and Wildlife Service prepared a “Biological Opinion” that analyzed the effects of the proposed wind project on the Indiana bat, which concluded the project would likely kill Indiana bats and that eventually the maternity colony would be wiped out.
However, the US FWS also concluded that the wind turbines could be built. A broad coalition of residents threatened to sue if an Environmental Impact Statement was not conducted by the Corps, so a proper assessment could be made of the project’s impacts. The FWS agreed to reconsider.
In 2012, Gamesa announced it would abandon the project because of uncertain federal power subsidy policies and concerns that the wind project could harm Indiana bats.