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South Chestnut Ridge Windpower Project, PA

STATUS: Prolonged Delay

TYPE: Wind

OPPOSITION: Local residents, Fayette County Zoning Hearing Board

PROSPECTS: Indeterminate

BACKGROUND: The $100 million project would install 24 wind turbines and generate enough electricity for 17,000 homes.  Local residents oppose the project based on concerns regarding a decline in tourism, views, noise, bat deaths, and health issues.  

In 2007, Iberdrola applied for special exceptions for the 24 turbines to be located in Georges and Springhill townships. The zoning hearing board denied the approvals in 2008.  In April 2009, Fayette County Judge Ralph Warman reversed the hearing board’s denial of a special exception. Judge Warman found that the zoning board “abused its discretion and committed errors of law” when it issued the denial.  In a 33-page ruling, Warman said the zoning board should not have based its decision on residents’ unsubstantiated objections, including concerns the turbines would destroy Chestnut Ridge’s scenic view, negatively impact tourism, and kill bats and birds.  “Clearly, the objectors’ testimony regarding the adverse impact to the viewshrd and tourism amounts to nothing more than mere speculation,” Warman wrote.

On June 29, 2009, the Board granted 14 requests for special exceptions for 22 wind turbines but denied eight.  The board also established a number of requirements, including a condition under which Iberdrola must shut down their facility 12 hours a day for two months if a certain number of bat deaths occur in a year.

In October 2010, the Fayette County commissioners changed the county’s zoning ordinance to increase the allowable noise level emitted by wind turbines when measured at neighboring property lines to 70 decibels, instead of the 55 that was suggested by Iberdrola.  As October 2010, construction on the project had not commenced. 

SOURCES: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailycourier/s_633938.html;
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/regional/fayette/s_623302.html;
The Herald Standard: http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_detail/article/1631/2010/october/27/bwindmill-noise-still-a-concern-for-bozek-b.html

Last updated November 24, 2010