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Model Ordinance, Wind Conference Scholarships to Help Local Governments

The Department of Environmental Protection this week 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.

DEP will also partner with the American Wind Energy Association to provide 50 scholarships so local government officials can attend the 2006 WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, June 4-7, in Pittsburgh.

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 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.

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.

“PSATS applauds the Governor’s willingness to find alternative energy sources and bring them to Pennsylvania,” PSATS Assistant Executive Director Elam Herr said. “Because this issue goes beyond energy independence, PSATS felt it was imperative to be at the table to discuss related concerns that might impact its 1,456 member townships. It was our goal to have a viable model wind ordinance that townships and other municipalities could use to pattern their own ordinances after. The model ordinance is not to be looked at as a final document, but as one that addresses specific areas of concern when siting a wind farm facility.”

“The Governor’s leadership on energy once again puts Pennsylvania in the lead in expanding an exciting source of clean energy -- wind generation -- in a way that works for everyone,” Community Energy President Brent Alderfer said. “The model wind ordinance gives communities the standards they need to ensure that wind generation with all of its impressive energy and environmental advantages doesn’t disadvantage its neighbors. We were pleased to be part of the effort.”

Sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy, this WINDPOWER conference is expected to bring together more than 4,500 energy professionals and 250 exhibiting companies.

Each of the scholarships, valued at $365, covers the cost of attendance at the “Fundamentals of Wind Energy” pre-conference seminar and the conference’s opening reception, plus access to the exhibition hall.

For information on the WINDPOWER Conference, download the Secretary’s Letter of Invitation.

For more information, visit DEP’s Wind Energy webpage.


4/28/2006

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