Library from Wisconsin
Hundreds have packed a legislative hearing on how far energy-generating wind turbines should be located from property lines. Republicans on the rule committee told state regulators they're worried the rules allow turbines to be built so close to property lines neighbors could get hurt.
But building the turbine on the second site — on land adjacent to the Lake Express car ferry at 2330 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive — could violate the state Public Trust Doctrine, according to an opinion by Stuart Mukamal, an assistant city attorney. The doctrine maintains the lakes and rivers belong to all Wisconsin citizens. The public’s right to access the waterways is legally well-established.
What could be Wisconsin's largest wind energy project is going up as scheduled, despite a proposal from Gov. Scott Walker that could make future wind farms more challenging to build in the state. We Energies' Glacier Hills project will have 90 turbines on approximately 17,350 acres in the towns of Randolph and Scott in northeastern Columbia County.
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?
Characteristic noises would include the footfalls of deer. "I have not seen a deer here since construction began," said Meyer, and the owls and hawks that used to frequent his woodlot are gone, too. While someone choosing to live near a freeway is moving next to the noise nowadays (since we're not building new freeways), in the case of wind farms, the noise is moving in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.