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Gamesa Energy’s Shaffer Mountain Wind Project, Somerset County, PA

STATUS: Stalled

TYPE: Wind

OPPOSITION: Local residents, Sensible Wind Solutions, Mountain Laurel Chapter of Trout Unlimited, The Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society

PROSPECTS: Indeterminate

BACKGROUND: Gamesa Energy proposes to install 30 (two megawatt) wind turbines on Shaffer Mountain where, according to an ecological study, an endangered Indiana bat resides.

The proposed turbine site has attracted widespread opposition because it is in the watershed of two of the state's "exceptional value" trout streams and is a migratory pathway for numerous raptor species, including the golden eagle.  Although the developer holds that the site is appropriate for a wind farm despite its proximity to the bat’s habitat, Sensible Wind Solutions, Mountain Laurel Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society sent Gamesa Energy a notice of intent to sue under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The Department of Environmental Protection has twice rejected Gamesa’s application, noting “unacceptable plans for restoration of disrupted streams, an undisclosed timber disturbance, improper labeling and scaling of the construction site drawing, inadequate documentation of approval by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

According to the Tribune Democrat “[t]he people living there have consistently shown great hostility toward this project, as evidenced by the number of protest signs lining area roads.” Residents are angered by the potential environmental impact as well as the wind farm’s potential impact on the “natural beauty” of Shaffer Mountain.

As of January 2010, Gamesa, was continuing with the state and federal permitting process for the project. The developer, who has been in the permitting process for three years, sought a second approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for the project after a previous permit expired. Gamesa is also waiting for permitting from the state Department of Environmental Protection.  In August 2010, the Army Corps held a public hearing for the project and indicated that it wanted to have a decision within120 days of the hearing notice, which was posted July, 12 2010.

SOURCES: The Tribune-Democrat:  http://www.tribune-democrat.com/editorials/local_story_128141718.html;
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08107/873664-113.stm;
Daily American http://www.dailyamerican.com/articles/2008/02/25/news/news893.txt
National Wind Watch: http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2010/08/13/turbine-tussle-persists-wind-farm-focus-of-public-hearing/
Last updated November 24, 2010