A wind farm proposed for the towns of Eden and Empire is moving through the approval process with little vocal opposition.
People gathered Monday for two informational meetings regarding Alliant Energy’s plans to build a wind farm in Fond du Lac County. The Cedar Ridge Wind Farm would include 41 turbines, generating up to 89 megawatts, according to the Public Service Commission.
During an afternoon session at the Eden Banquet Hall, residents asked questions about everything from costs to impacts.
Betty Rozek of Eden wanted to know if turbines would reduce her television reception. She doesn’t have cable TV so the project concerns her.
“My television’s my best friend,” she said.
William Fannucchi, environmental coordinator for the Public Service Commission, said turbines probably won’t affect radio and television reception but officials will keep the possibility in mind as they consider environmental issues.
Several people also wished to learn how costs would affect them. Fannucchi said wind turbines have an advantage because they operate on wind power, rather than fuel. However, that could work against them because they only create energy when the wind blows.
Dale Grahl, an Eden farmer who will have three turbines on his property, asked what it would take to deny the project.
People are welcome to voice their opinions, whether good or bad, said Fannucchi. If concerns arise, officials will determine if certain sites are inappropriate or if turbines should be moved to different locations.
Response to the project has been mostly positive, said Erin Dammen, communications program manager for Alliant Energy. Many people have voiced their approval, even before Alliant Energy filed an application for the project.
Others wanted to know more about what the turbines meant for them, she said. Some have wondered about the noise. Others asked how the turbines would affect birds.
Hoping it works
Mike Weiss of Eden said his property will host one turbine if the project continues. The farm would benefit producers and consumers with its renewable energy, he said.
Other non-renewable resources, like coal, have volatile prices and producers don’t always know how rates will change.
Wind energy might reduce the country’s dependence on foreign sources, too, said Kathy Hass, who will have one turbine on her town of Empire land. It can provide more juice for an energy-hungry nation as well.
“Hopefully it will keep the electric bills from skyrocketing,” she said.
John Braatz of Eden saw involvement in the project as a way to stay informed. He will have three turbines on his property, he said. He wants the turbines because he wants to stay on top of changing production methods and activities in Fond du Lac County.
The county’s willingness to construct the farm may work to its advantage. Doug Guell of the town of Empire, who plans to have one turbine, said government renewable energy standards require turbine use. Fond du Lac can stay on track with the farm.
“(It) might as well happen here,” he said.
Grahl, like the other property owners, has no concerns. He has wondered about crop damage from construction but officials have promised him compensation if it occurs.
Seeing the project succeed matters more to him. He believes in wind energy and said Wisconsin can benefit from renewable energy.
Farmers also benefit from the extra income. Many farmers struggle to produce corn and soybeans. Wind energy may give them a much-needed boost, plus ensure the next generation has enough power, he said.
“I’m thinking more for the future than I am for the present,” he said.
By Heather Stanek
13 February 2007
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