Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Wisconsin

Turbine built too close to residence

We Energies is facing a 15-yard penalty of sorts after a resident flagged the power company for building a wind turbine too close to his home. Local ordinances require that wind towers be erected at least 1,000 feet from a neighboring house, but a series of mistakes ended up with the tower being built 47 feet too close to Bill Winkler's home. Winkler couldn't be reached for comment. His brother, Mike Winkler, was among the most vocal opponents of the We Energies 88-turbine wind power project.
25 Mar 2008

Good decision to not act on wind rules

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.
18 Mar 2008

Energy firm sidesteps county

A wind energy firm planning to develop turbine fields in Calumet County says it is no longer going through local regulation to get the project approved. Instead, Curt Bjulin, Wisconsin project manager for EcoEnergy, said his firm is seeking approval from the state Public Service Commission for the project in the towns of Chilton and Rantoul. This is the latest salvo in a battle that's gone on for nearly two years between wind farm developers and Calumet County residents who fear the effects dozens of 400-foot turbines will have on neighbors' lives and health.
15 Mar 2008

Senate holds off on windmill siting legislation

Legislation that would have given the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin exclusive jurisdiction over the siting of wind energy turbines died in the state Senate on Wednesday. "We voted and there was an amendment to have a citizens' review committee, much like the farm siting bill," Sen. Alan Lasee, R-Rockland, said. Because of the proposed amendment, Lasee said the proposal -- in the form of Senate Bill 544 -- bill was sent back to committee, effectively killing it for this year. ...A wind energy firm planning to develop turbine fields in the town of Chilton and Rantoul in Calumet County has decided to no longer go through local regulation to get the project approved. Curt Bjulin, Wisconsin project manager for EcoEnergy LLC, said his firm is now going through the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to get the project approval.
14 Mar 2008

Wind farm bill runs out of gas

The bill was effectively killed Wednesday when it was referred back to a scheduling committee. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, said there were no plans to bring it to the floor today, the last day of the Legislature 's regularly scheduled session. Opponents said they wanted to include local governments and other groups more directly in writing the new state rules. Wind farms being proposed around the state include a plan to put six turbines in the town of Springfield in northwestern Dane County. The key dispute over the proposal -- by Sen. Jeff Plale, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Ashwaubenon -- is how far wind farms should have to be set back from surrounding homes to protect property owners from
13 Mar 2008

Who controls the land in rural Calumet County

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"?
25 Feb 2008

Task force calls for wind-siting changes; Panel seeks uniform standards for turbines

Responding to counties and towns that are restricting development of small wind farms, one lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would call for similar standards to be enacted for wind turbines across Wisconsin. The proposed bill was among the initiatives recommended by the state's Task Force on Global Warming. ... Local ordinances that restrict wind power could make it harder to reach the goal, required by state law, for Wisconsin to generate 10% of its power from renewable energy by 2015, the task force said.
24 Feb 2008

Wind study blows no smoke over health risks

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.
23 Feb 2008

Holyland man may force removal of wind turbine after siting error

A wind turbine placed 36-feet too close to a rural Johnsburg home has generated some controversy in this township of 1,100 in the northeast corner of Fond du Lac County. Ordinances require that wind turbines be placed at least 1,000 feet - a distance of more than three football fields - from homes. However, a We Energies turbine located on a neighbor's property near resident Bill Winkler's town of Marshfield home came up short, by a little more than a first down. ..."We are prepared to find a resolution, even if it means moving the tower," McNulty said.
22 Feb 2008

Interim report focuses on cutting energy use

The push has both environmental and economic ramifications because politicians and the business community are hopeful that the state can exploit home-grown technology and the use of biofuels such as those that could be produced by the state's paper- and wood-product industry. But tackling climate change while balancing competing agendas will be daunting. Environmentalists on the 29-member panel fear Doyle won't go far enough, while representatives of business worry a shift away from energy sources such as coal will lead to higher electric prices.
18 Feb 2008

Supervisor should avoid conflict of interest

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.
18 Feb 2008

Don't let wind turbine issue drag on much longer

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.
17 Feb 2008

Union wind recommendations could be used in state discussions

A draft wind ordinance developed by a town of Union committee should be an example state officials consider during discussions of state wind turbine siting standards, state Rep. Brett Davis said. Because wind energy regulation is a controversial statewide issue, Davis said he will push for a legislative council study committee to discuss the issue. "I think there are so many competing interests that are involved from all different sides that everyone needs to sit down at a table and really work through this," he said. Davis, R-Oregon, met with members of the Town of Union Wind Study Committee over the past few months while they researched and developed a draft ordinance regulating wind energy. Committee chair Tom Alisankus presented the recommendations to the plan commission Thursday night.
2 Feb 2008

County passes wind energy ordinance; Reduction in decibel level is key

Door County concluded almost a year's worth of research on commercial wind turbines Tuesday with passage of a revised wind energy ordinance. The Door County Board passed, 17-3, the ordinance that regulates commercial wind turbines in excess of 170 feet. Sturgeon Bay Supervisor Chuck Brann was absent. The supervisors adopted the ordinance after reducing the outdoor sound level maximum requirement from 55 decibels to 50 decibels. Sound made by a commercial turbine cannot exceed the 50 decibels for any period of time when measured outside at the property line of inhabited structures or places of "frequent public gathering," according to the adopted ordinance.
2 Feb 2008

Proposal would limit turbine locations

Regulations being considered for wind turbines in Union Township would make a proposed wind energy project in the township impossible, the wind developer said this morning. Wind turbines in Union Township would need to be at least one-half mile from homes and 1,000 feet from property lines, according to a proposed wind ordinance presented to the Town of Union Plan Commission on Thursday night. The town’s Wind Turbine Study Committee was charged with investigating wind turbines and writing a proposed ordinance to regulate them.
1 Feb 2008

Recommended wind turbine ordinance presented

Wind turbines sited in Union Township would need to be built at least one-half mile from homes and 1,000 feet from the nearest property line, according to a proposed wind ordinance presented to the Town of Union Plan Commission tonight. ...The recommended setbacks are the absolute minimum, Alisankus stressed, because the information the committee gathered suggested even greater distances of up to 1 1/2 miles. Ordinances can only regulate turbines in regard to public health and safety, he said.
31 Jan 2008

Wind farm tempest blows through Trempealeau; Developer considers suing county over ordinance

Trempealeau County's wind farm ordinance hasn't yet generated a lawsuit, but that might be AgWind Energy Partners LLC's only choice. At least that's how Jordan Hemaidan of Madison-based Michael Best & Friedrich LLP sees it. "There are many considerations that have to go into when or whether or not to file a lawsuit," he said. "AgWind is not pursuing one at this time, but it reserves the right to bring a lawsuit forward at the time of its choice." Hemaidan represents the Holmen-based wind farm developer and, earlier this month, he sent a letter to county officials saying judicial review of the ordinance and a court order overturning it could be in order.
30 Jan 2008

Blowin' out of proportion? Company, Trempealeau County disagree about wind ordinance

Trempealeau County believes a threat of a lawsuit over wind turbines might be a bunch of hot air. A little more than a month after the Trempealeau County Board passed one of the most restrictive wind ordinances in the country, the developers seeking to build a wind farm have now told the board to revise or they'll sue. A Madison, Wis., law firm representing AgWind Energy Partners sent the county board a letter Jan. 14 stating the county's zoning ordinance that governs the placement, height and noise of wind turbines is illegal because it contradicts the state's model in several ways. Zoning director Kevin Lein said the letter is threatening, but has no substance. "The consensus was to let it go for now," Lein said.
26 Jan 2008

Third wind turbine moratorium enacted Wind-energy ordinance timeline

A moratorium on construction of industrial wind turbines continues in Calumet County. On Jan. 15, the county board approved a 70-day moratorium, the third one enacted since the board began studying the issue in 2003. Wind turbines have become a contentious issue between wind-energy companies and farmers in support, and other farmers and county residents in opposition. A news release from RENEW Wisconsin states the moratorium in Calumet County and restrictive ordinances in Manitowoc County have halted four wind projects totaling 200 megawatts, enough to power 60,000 homes.
22 Jan 2008
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