Library from 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?
Polz also said two wind farms the company has completed in Wisconsin could not have been built under the proposed regulations. The company, though, wouldn't necessarily consider increasing its business in Illinois, Polz said. "We're already developing projects in other states," he said. "This would just preclude our business from happening in Wisconsin."
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.
In the battle between property owners and clean energy advocates, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed new requirements for wind farms that could essentially halt new wind development in the state.
A woman who opposes wind turbines allegedly was pushed twice by a man who supports them on Tuesday following a town of Morrison meeting, according to a Brown County Sheriff's Department report. The suspect was allegedly picking up chairs when the incident occurred.
Buried in a regulatory reform bill proposed by Gov. Scott Walker earlier this week lies a provision that wind energy insiders say could shut down 12 wind farm projects, cost investors billions and essentially kill the industry in the state.
Walker sought wind siting changes to address "concerns on wind energy policy that impacts homeowners," Werwie said. "If enacted, this legislation will protect the private property rights for all Wisconsin citizens." The thorny issue of how close wind turbines should be built to homes has dogged the state's energy policy for several years.
A rules and regulatory reform bill proposed Tuesday by Gov. Scott Walker would require wind turbines to be set back at least 1,800 feet from nearby properties, unless those property owners consent in writing. The bill also would require any agency's proposed rule to go through the governor's office before it can take effect, and expands the economic impact reporting requirements for proposed agency rules.
The city's sustainability office is considering whether to build the turbines adjacent to the port offices or the ferry terminal, by the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood. The project would be funded with a block grant funded by the federal economic stimulus package, said Erick Shambarger, a city environmental sustainability manager.
On Jan. 1, a new Wisconsin state law took effect that wind energy advocates call an important step - and even a national model - for alleviating the chaotic and shifting patchwork of municipal and county siting regulations that can create great uncertainty and moving goalposts for wind developers.
A wind-siting rule that took effect in Wisconsin on Jan. 1 could open the door to wind farms in southwest Wisconsin. The rule provides a path for obtaining a permit to build a wind farm -- as long as the project developers abide by the guidelines established by the state Public Service Commission. If a township opts to regulate a wind-energy power system, its ordinances can't be more restrictive than the PSC's rules.
The outgoing chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, who scheduled then canceled Thursday's vote, tells Action 2 News each side will try to work out its differences when the next legislative session starts. In the meantime, it appears the new regulations will go into effect January 1st.
"Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy believe these rules directly threaten the health, safety and financial well-being of countless rural Wisconsin communities," said Steve Deslauriers of Greenleaf, a spokesman for the group. The PSC last week voted unanimously to send updated wind turbine siting rules back to the state Legislature.
Much of Highway 33 in eastern Columbia County will become a de facto construction zone next spring, as 90 wind turbines start to rise into the skyline. Before the We Energies turbines stand about 400 feet from ground to the highest blade tip, they'll take the form of components, moving into the county on trucks.
Higley said concerns about the wind farm underscore the significance of the lawsuit that his group and the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group filed last year after the commission approved the wind farm. The commission didn't use its most exhaustive review process for the project because it was located outside Wisconsin, but Higley and Todd Stuart of WIEG said it's possible the transmission challenges would have become apparent earlier if the more detailed review process had been used.
Wisconsin Power & Light got a slap on the wrist from state regulators for not making it clear that there will be problems getting electricity out to consumers from a major wind farm the Madison utility company is building in Minnesota. Last April, WPL requested a $35.4 million rate boost for 2011, primarily to help pay for the Bent Tree wind farm near Albert Lea, Minn.
"Basically, I think they're locking people in their homes here and people that want to get out, they're going to take a big loss. I think it's really sad," said Belinda Gagnon, who lives near the wind farm.
The wind turbine debate has become so heated and divisive here in southern Brown County, the principal of Morrison Zion Lutheran School says staff recently imposed a moratorium on students discussing the topic during school.
A new report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says the construction of new power plants in the state in recent years has driven up electrical rates, created excess capacity just when the recession was reducing demand, and eliminated the state's competitive edge as one of the nation's cheapest places to buy power.
Towering above farm fields on the Niagara Escarpment south of Green Bay are some of the tallest wind turbines in the nation - rising nearly 500 feet from the ground to the tip of a blade, only about 100 feet shorter than Wisconsin's highest skyscraper, the U.S. Bank building in Milwaukee.