Two new Pennsylvania wind farms start spinning
Everpower's 139.4 MW Twin Ridges Wind Farm on Big Savage Ridge in Somerset County started making power on December 21, 2012. The farm has 68 turbines that make enough electricity to power 33,303 homes homes each year. This wind farm is also a big plus for the local economy, delivering up to $223,000 annually, to be shared among the four townships where the turbines are located, and sending at least $93,000 each year to the Berlin and Meyersdale School Districts combined. What's more, Somerset County will get at least $37,000 per year, and 89 landowners will receive over $1.5 million in royalty, easement, and other payments.
At least seven new jobs are in place to operate and maintain the facility; EverPower will spend at least $2 million each year on local goods and services. And of course, during the construction phase, the wind farm employed many local workers from the building trades.
The second Pennsylvania wind farm to start spinning is also the state's largest — the 144 MW Mehoopany Wind Farm in Wyoming County, owned by BP Wind Energy. The $250 million project has 88 wind turbines, enough to power around 34,402 homes each year. More than 400 people worked on the project during the peak of construction, and 10 to 15 workers will work there permanently.
One giant leap for Pennsylvania
Having these wind farms making electricity is the equivalent of closing two + coal-fired power plants the size of GenOn Energy's Elrama facility in Fayette County. The Elrama plant spews more than 2.3 million tons of global warming pollution (CO2) into the air annually. It also emits toxic sulfur dioxide (SO2), which contributes to acid rain; deadly mercury in our fish and our babies' bodies; and fine particles that destroy our ability to breathe. The plant also releases other toxic pollutants. All of this pollution increases the risk of death for those both nearby and farther away.
Add to this the ability of wind power to avoid the environmental harm caused by mining the coal, the social costs imposed on those living near coal-fired power plants, and the risks associated with disposing of thousands of tons of toxic fly ash that threatens our drinking water. The only fuel wind energy uses is clean, non-polluting wind, so all of these problems are eliminated.
It's clear that our 21 wind farms are great neighbors, making our state a better place. And we at PennFuture couldn't be more proud of the policy work we have done to make these — and future wind farms and solar installations — a reality. When PennFuture started, wind energy in Pennsylvania was just a dream. Now, it's a 1.2 gigawatt reality, with more to come.
They've done the heavy lifting; now it's your turn
If you live in the Duquesne Light territory (Allegheny and Beaver Counties), you can sign up to switch through Community Energy — and they'll send a donation to PennFuture at no additional cost to you. Residents and businesses in other areas can sign up through Choose PA Wind.
So what are you waiting for? Do it today!
Protecting Penn's Woods
This doesn't ban drilling in our forests. Under earlier lease arrangements, the drilling industry can drill in approximately 700,000 acres of state forest land, about one-third of the total forest and half of the acreage located above the Marcellus shale.
Gov. Corbett has, so far, adhered to the executive order, and for that he deserves our thanks. But he or any future governor could rescind the moratorium with a quick swipe of the pen. Vitali's bill would provide much stronger protection for Penn's Woods. Please ask your state representative to co-sponsor this important legislation.