Zoning/Planning and Wisconsin
It's true that wind turbine critics wanted a farther setback -- one figure that gets thrown around is a 2-kilometer setback, or more than 6,000 feet. But that the PSC's figure is less than critics wanted and more than developers proves nothing about the process that produced the PSC's rule.
Was, in fact, the process fair?
If the PSC guidelines didn't reflect the state real estate association data on decreased property values, and if the industry cannot guarantee acceptable sound levels prior to construction, then the risk is all mine.
As long as there is not a clear and easy recourse to be sure my rights and property values are protected, I will object.
It's becoming increasingly difficult to determine which way the wind is blowing in the continuing debate over who should oversee wind farm developments in Wisconsin. ...We believe local governments are quite capable of deciding what is best for the people that live within them. If the state wants to have a role in local wind farm decisions, we feel it should be advisory only.
The process has been a long one, and there have been many misleading and false statements made by the applicant and those representing them, so it's no surprise that proponents of the project continue to mislead and spread false information. In the interest of truth, I would like to share some facts that are being overlooked, and in some cases suppressed.
Township of Ridgeville Chairman Mike Luethe made the following statement to the Daily Reporter newspaper on Aug. 15, 2008: "The Town of Ridgeville joined the Township of Wilton in passing an ordinance establishing half-mile setbacks for wind farms. Local governments should still have a say in the matter. Invenergy LLC of Chicago, which wants to develop a wind farm in the area, already challenged in court the joint Ridgeville-Wilton ordinance." "They said we do not have the right to pass our own ordinance," Luethe said, "because it essentially vetoed the county's own ordinance."
Windmills likely will be perceived more favorably as energy prices burn holes in our pockets; still, some people are concerned they're an ugly visual distraction that generates noise and threatens birds.
Now is the time to formulate guidelines - before any specific commercial proposals are on the table.
Nothing prevented Navitas from starting the project the past two years. Regardless, the BOA upheld the extension. The only item they took from the new wind ordinance was the ability to extend the project, clearly ignoring county requirements on wind turbine siting. It's a reckless decision that could prove costly again to taxpayers.
The terms of two BOA members expire in July. I expressed my dissatisfaction to the county executive. Again, he guaranteed they are good people.
They may be, but they become paralyzed when making hard decisions and lack direction as a board representing Manitowoc County.
It's rare indeed when inaction on a bill by the Legislature turns out to be a good thing. But by not putting on the fast track a measure dealing with siting of wind energy farms, lawmakers will have the chance to make the bill better.
Proposals to give the state Public Service Commission the authority to write rules on wind farm siting, including allowable noise levels and setback from residential development, were introduced in late February and received minimal scrutiny and little public comment. In the end end, the state Senate wisely voted to send the proposal back to committee, thus ending the possibility of action on it in this session.
After looking at the magnitude of the project I realized that my farm is on "their farm" and wanted to know what that might mean to my family and me? We're talking about 66 roads being cut into 66 graveled sites, where 66 huge electrical generators will be built and operated. These electrical generators are 40 stories tall (400 feet) and will be equipped with lights and moving parts. Also, these 66 electrical generators will be connected by miles of underground cable and feed into a large electric power sub-station. And remember, there are more coming! Wow, is this really a "farm" or an "industrial wind energy complex"?
Going green is good. We're all for Earth-friendly innovations that reduce our energy needs and dependence on foreign oil.
But they must make sense. Benefits must outweigh costs. They must consider potential health risks.
They can't be knee-jerk decisions by elected leaders who vote for them for political gain without due consideration of ramifications. ...Read the report's comments from residents who live near turbines around the country, and you wouldn't want one near your backyard.
Sure, technology has improved. Yet, EcoEnergy's proposed 397-foot towers could spread health risks farther than most turbines already in use.
Calumet County Board Supv. Jerry Criter may have held onto his seat last week, but he needs to watch his step as the county moves forward on the emotionally charged wind turbine issue. ...While Dist. Atty. Ken Kratz cleared Criter of wrongdoing in a letter several months ago, he also cautioned Criter "that any future action taken in which you have a financial interest may lead to a sanction ... or criminal prosecution."
Criter needs to take this piece of advice to heart.
More than a year old already, the controversy about how to regulate - or, in effect, even allow - two large turbine projects in one of the most promising areas in the state for wind energy has been hashed over again and again. ...The point is to come up with a plan that can address the concerns of worried residents and the project developers, without it being winner-take-all.
Because if they hold out for winner-take-all, everyone's going to lose.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the turbine debate is its sole focus on health and safety issues; there are much more compelling reasons for regulating industrial turbines, particularly in the environmental and economic spheres. I find it particularly disturbing that the Wisconsin statutes that mandate renewable energy use have deliberately removed the term "welfare" from local regulatory powers to protect "health, safety and welfare." This censors debate on all issues except health and safety, and the most important reasons to regulate commercial turbines are left off the table. ...This [Trempealeau County] ordinance passed not because the citizen's committee was stacked, or because the county board is incompetent, it passed because the developers were unable to demonstrate that the county had anything to gain by unfettered development. Protecting the health and safety of its citizens was more important than profits.
the Calumet County Board has very limited authority under Wisconsin law to restrict wind towers. Wisconsin Statute 66.0401 states in part: No county may place any restriction, either directly or in effect, on the installation or use of a wind energy system, unless the restriction satisfies one of the following conditions: a) Serves to preserve or protect the public health or safety; (b) Does not significantly increase the cost of the system or significantly decrease its efficiency; or (c) Allows for an alternative system of comparable cost and efficiency.
Since this law was enacted in the early 1980s, there has not been one recorded case where a municipality was successful in banning wind towers outright.
County government has the right and duty to investigate the reality of wind turbine facilities and to write a wind energy ordinance that protects the health and safety of its citizens. ...You have to be very naive to believe a 400 to 500 foot, 270-ton to 330-ton piece of machinery would not make noise and negatively affect your family and community. Yes, many of us in Trempealeau County want to protect our health and safety - if you're as smart as I think you are, wouldn't you too?
The County Board of Trempealeau, Wis., is to be commended for its recent rejection of the proposed draft ordinance on wind turbine development in the county and for responding favorably to our petition to extend the moratorium on wind turbine development until a truly comprehensive ordinance can be put together with the guidance of a Citizens Advisory Committee, to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the county.
The Trempealeau County Board is to be commended for its recent rejection of the proposed draft ordinance on wind turbine development in the county and for responding favorably to our petition to extend the moratorium on wind turbine development until a truly comprehensive ordinance can be put together with the guidance of a citizens advisory committee to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the county.
We should explore ways of developing wind power in the county (on a smaller scale) that would actually benefit the majority of the residents. What is about to be crammed down our throats would only benefit the few landowners who are willing to trade the beauty of our county for monetary gain.
Until the ordinance is rewritten to protect the health and property rights of all residents (not just those hosting the turbines), this project must be put on hold. Further, without full and honest disclosure of Invenergy's plans, it is irresponsible of the zoning committee and county board to consider, let alone approve, a conditional use permit.