Elliott to have a hand in plan for ocean turbines

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Warren Elliott

When Warren Elliott served as Chairman of the Franklin County Commissioners, he initiated the development of the county's first comprehensive plan in over 20 years.  Little did he know that the exercise would be preparing him for very important work in the future.

As it turns out, Elliott will be the only citizen voice at the table to represent Pennsylvania in planning for turbine electric generators that will be located off the coast of the US in the Atlantic Ocean.  With the recent announcements by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the US is moving ahead with the planning and location efforts for these giant structures that will turn wind into energy.

“These are definitely exciting times and I look forward to being an integral part of the process,” Elliott said.  Last year Elliott was appointed to the Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, by then US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, as Pennsylvania's only citizen representative on the board.

Some of the issues that Elliott will be directly involved with are considerations concerning the impact that  the locations of the turbines will have on sea life, as well as commercial and recreational fishing, if any. Also at issue is how the resulting energy will be transported back to land-based transmission stations.

“We recently had a proposal presented to us from a company that wants to serve as the conduit for transmission of the electricity through one large pipeline, an 'interstate' for electricity, if you will, rather than having each turbine or each company running hundreds of individual lines back to shore across the ocean floor,” Elliott commented.

“In many ways, the MAFMC is the planning body for the ocean from 3 miles offshore to 200 miles out,” he stated. “It covers the coastal states from New York south to North Carolina. We (Pennsylvania) are part of that council because of the Delaware River,” he added.

Elliott believes in the need to examine the possibility that wind generated electricity can be a part of a broader solution to the nation's energy needs.  As with any development of this kind, he is cautious to examine all aspects of the total impact and costs associated with it.

“My experience with planning and working with diverse groups of people at the county level is proving invaluable.  The other members of the council are extremely talented and dedicated folks. You wouldn't naturally think that someone from south-central Pennsylvania would be involved with planning for the future of our ocean, but I welcome the challenge and appreciate the opportunity,” he concluded.