What is the Shaffer Mountain Wind Project?
The Shaffer Mountain wind project is an industrial wind development being pushed by Gamesa Energy, USA and Shaffer Mountain Wind, LLC, both Philadelphia corporations. It is located on largely undeveloped, undisturbed forested acreage along the Allegheny Front east of Central City, Pennsylvania, on land that is mostly owned by another Philadelphia corporation, Berwind Natural Resources. The project covers portions of Shade and Ogle Townships in Somerset County and Napier Township in Bedford County, in an area known as the Eastern Continental Divide. This is a pristine, largely roadless area. Click here to view Shaffer Mountain as it currently exists. The project consists of 33 industrial wind turbines, each mounted on a 1,000 ton concrete pad. The turbines will be connected by 17 miles of newly constructed industrial gravel/dirt roads, transmission trenches and drainage ditches. Many erosion and sediment control structures, collection and diversion channels, detention basins, sediment traps, rock outlet filters, culverts, level spreaders and sediment filters will also be built in this largely untouched area.
Shaffer Mountain is home to many rare plants (bladderwort, pitcher plant) because upland wetlands (wetlands above 2000 feet) dot the area. This is a unique habitat found only in a few remote pockets in the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. Thousands of hawks, eagles and other raptors use the Shaffer Mountain face as their major migration route south every Fall and north every Spring. The threatened eastern golden eagle (maybe 1500 remaining) and endangered bald eagle use this ridge as a major migration corridor.
Eight streams drain the site in Somerset County and at least one in Bedford County. Piney Run and Clear Shade Creek are Exceptional Value (EV) streams that support stable wild brook trout populations. There are only 28 Exceptional Value streams in the entire Commonwealth. Exceptional Value streams contain the highest water quality in the Commonwealth. They are the best of the best. Piney Run is also designated as a Wilderness Trout Stream by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Wetlands, bogs and vernal ponds are interspersed over this site. The wetlands adjacent to Piney Run may be EV as well. A number of tributaries and branches of these streams will need to be crossed by turbine access roads and stream crossings will need to be widened to allow access by huge construction vehicles and equipment.
According to Gamesa's storm water management report, Piney Run collects runoff from most of the project area. Drainage areas within the Piney Run watershed can expect an increase in runoff should the project be built. See AMEC Stormwater Management Report dated 02/26/2007 at p. 7.
Construction was originally scheduled to begin in June 2007. Global Energy Services of Philadelphia is scheduled to be the general contractor. The environmental consultant for the project is AMEC Earth and Environmental, Inc. of Philadelphia.