HARRISBURG – In an effort to provide residents with a voice in a wind turbine project in Carbon County, Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) has introduced legislation that would require the developer to get voter approval first through a ballot referendum.
House Bill 1734
is part of a legislative package Heffley has proposed in response to the Bethlehem Authority’s plan to contract with a foreign-owned company to construct 37 wind turbines on land it owns in Penn Forest Township. The bill would apply to any proposed industrial wind development project in the Commonwealth.
“I believe the feedback and approval of residents is important to obtain before the start of a windmill project that can have a huge impact on their daily lives,” said Heffley.
Other bills in Heffley’s legislative package include:
• House Bill 1729
, which would require the state auditor general to perform an in-depth audit of the authority’s practices.
• House Bill 1728
, which would add a requirement that the auditor general perform an audit of the authority every five years to determine if it is operating in the most effective fashion.
• House Bill 1733
, which would address the issue of property tax fairness by requiring municipal authorities to pay applicable taxes on all parcels of land they own and choose to develop. The taxes would be assessed at the most recent fair market value. Currently, the Bethlehem Authority can make payments in lieu of taxes.
According to Heffley, windmills are heavily subsidized by federal tax dollars, causing increases to ratepayers for unreliable energy. Studies have shown windmills to be less than 30% efficient, sometimes never producing more power than it took to build and install them in the first place.
Heffley added that the environmental impact of these large windmills is tremendous. Not only do they kill thousands of birds, but their ecological footprint is staggering. For example, a new natural gas-fired generating station on 24 acres can produce 1,124 megawatts of electricity. Nearly 7,000 wind turbines on 19 square miles would be required to equal that same amount of energy production.
Heffley is currently seeking co-sponsors for his legislative package. He introduced similar legislation during the last session which did not make it to the House floor for a vote.
Representative Doyle Heffley
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Andy Briggs