RENEW Wisconsin Inc., a non-profit renewable energy organization in Madison, is also alleging in the claim the moratorium deprives electricity customers access to Focus on Energy grants and contravenes state public policy, which supports wind and renewable energy systems.
The claim was filed with the county clerk on Nov. 7. The county has 120 days to deny or admit the claim. Regardless, it is an indication wind energy advocates feel the county may be moving forward too slowly with wind energy farms.
Edward J. Ritger, a lawyer representing Emerging Energies, said the development should continue because the company’s application for construction was submitted to the county before it adopted a moratorium. According to Ritger, the county has not addressed Emerging Energy’s construction plan and has deliberately delayed the process by focusing on unrelated wind constructions.
"We were told by the county to ‘bear with us’ as we work out the concerns with the ordinance," he said. "Six months later they’re just starting to look at large turbines."
If the study committee delays development long enough, Ritger said, Emerging Energies would be in dire financial straits.
"We are seeking a quick end to the moratorium as it applies to Emerging Energies," he said.
On May 17, the county board voted unanimously for a moratorium on any new proposals for wind turbines.
The purpose of the moratorium was to give the Wind Energy Systems Advisory Committee time to make recommendations to the Planning and Parks Department on possible amendments to the county’s wind ordinance. The committee held its first meeting in June.
The moratorium would not affect a development by Navitas Energy for a 49-turbine Twin Creeks Wind Farm development in the northern part of the county. Navitas had permission to continue because the permit for construction was approved before the moratorium.
Public pressure to review the original wind energy ordinance gave rise to the advisory committee because the ordinance didn’t address turbine location, noise and public safety concerns, said committee Chairman Ralph Kozlowski.
"We had to separate between small and large wind systems because there were different sets of issues involved," he said.
The committee is scheduled to present its recommendations on small wind systems to the county Planning and Parks Commission on Dec. 5. It is then up to the commission to hold hearings and vote on the recommendations. The commission is working on possible modifications to a large wind system ordinance.
But it will take three to four months for the Wind Energy Systems Advisory Committee to complete deliberations on the wind ordinance and finalize changes, according to County Executive Dan Fischer.
"By the time the claim is heard in court, the ordinance changes may be finalized," Fischer said.