Spanish company stops wind-turbine project
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Gamesa Inc. has canceled a controversial wind-power project it planned to build on Shaffer Mountain in a major flyway for migrating hawks, eagles and bats along the border of Somerset and Bedford counties.
The Spanish company, which operates wind-turbine production facilities in Pennsylvania, announced it would abandon the project because of uncertain federal wind-power production subsidy policy and concerns the turbines could harm the endangered Indiana bat.
The 30-turbine, 60-megawatt commercial wind-power project on 22,000 ridge-top acres was scheduled for construction this year and was to come on line in 2013. But its location stirred opposition from environmental, conservation and sportsmen's organizations, almost from the time it was proposed in 2006.
In November, a coalition of those organizations threatened to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for issuing an opinion allowing the turbines to be built near a maternity colony of Indiana bats. The service subsequently agreed to reconsider its opinion.
"I'm really happy. It took five-and-a-half years, a lot of time and effort was spent opposing this project, and I'm glad it's over for now," said John Buchan, an attorney and leader of local opposition to the project.
Mr. Buchan said the project's potential impacts on the migratory bird corridor and Piney Run and Clear Shade Creek, two of the state's 28 "exceptional value" trout streams, played roles in the opposition but the bat isue was key.
"Indiana bats are endangered, and combined with the white nose syndrome epidemic that's wiping out whole populations of bats in the state, that got the Fish and Wildlife Service's attention."
First Published June 12, 2012 1:34 pm