May 2006

 

Pennsylvania unveils model ordinance to help wind energy developments

Hershey, PA— Governor Edward G. Rendell unveiled a model ordinance that will help Pennsylvania’s local governments decide how to direct the location and development of wind turbines within municipal borders.

The model ordinance represents the collaborative efforts of state and local governments with the private sector. Participants included PSATS, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, environmental advocacy group PennFuture, and wind energy development companies Community Energy, FPL Energy, PPM Energy and Gamesa Corp.

Stakeholders began meeting last fall to craft the model ordinance. The ordinance is designed as a template that local governments can adjust to their specific needs. Issues addressed in the model ordinance include visual appearance of wind turbines and related infrastructure, sound levels, shadow flicker, minimum property setbacks, interference with communications devices, protection of public roads, liability insurance, decommissioning and dispute resolution.

Public comment and involvement are intended to be part of the local implementation of the ordinance.

Not only do wind farms produce clean electricity, but they also can significantly reduce the tax burden on residents living in host communities. Wind energy also adds a promising dimension to farming and offers an economic boost to agricultural communities. A wind farm can provide stable income to farmers through reduced utility bills or land rentals. Landowners can receive up to $4,000 annually per turbine and still have more than 95 percent of their land available for farming.

Governor Rendell personally led the campaign to land the Spanish wind- energy company Gamesa, the second largest wind energy company in the world, beating out many other vying states. With its United States headquarters and four manufacturing centers now based in Pennsylvania, Gamesa represents an $84 million investment in the state that will create as many as 1,000 jobs over five years.

Pennsylvania currently is a leader among eastern states with almost 153 megawatts of wind energy installed. The state’s new Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard promises to build substantially on this accomplishment. The portfolio standard will make between 3,000 and 4,000 megawatts of wind energy available to commonwealth energy users.

The state’s clean energy law is one of the nation’s most progressive, ensuring that 18 percent of all energy generated comes from clean, efficient sources by 2020. Benefits include $10 billion in increased output for the commonwealth, $3 billion in additional earnings and as many as 4,000 news jobs for residents with 15 years.

 


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