As the Glenmore Town Board gears up to vote Monday on the first of two proposals to build wind turbines on property owned by local families, the topic of turbines still generates controversy.
Emerging Energies/ Shirley Wind of Hubertus wants to build an eight-turbine wind farm on several parcels of land owned by four families. Each turbine would stand 492 feet tall and generate 2.75 megawatts of energy, for which the property owners would receive a set rent, regardless of the wind power generated.
Suamico developer Tom Mattson, president of Prelude LLC, also is trying to bring seven wind turbines into Glenmore.
The planning commission tabled his request March 12.
“It sounds corny and nobody’ll believe you when you say this, but it’s not the money we’re doing it for,” said Rodney Leiterman, 4611 Shirley Road, one of the property owners involved. “It’s money I don’t have, so if they go up, they go up, and if they don’t, they don’t.”
Proponents say wind power is renewable, emission-free and makes sense as well as money in an economy plagued by rising fuel costs.
“With the price of energy rising and the demand for energy rising and all of the money we are spending fighting in Iraq, somebody has to get this country nonoil-dependent,” Leiterman said.
But not everyone’s for the project. Many residents signed a petition to urge Glenmore to delay it until an environmental and quality-of-life study can be done.
Among concerns cited by critics are stray voltage making animals and people sick; increased bird and bat mortality; strobing effects from the sun striking the moving blades; the structures themselves causing an aesthetic blight on the landscape; decreased property values; and noise and vibrations.
Resident Jeff Jens, who has become the reluctant spokesman for the opposition, contends that since wind power affects other people besides the property owners, the townspeople and not just the Town Board should be able to vote on the matter.
“If the majority of residents voted for it, then I would be OK with that,” Jens said.
Thus far, Glenmore’s position has been that wind power is the wave of the future, and because of state statute and the town’s relatively new wind power ordinance, there’s no way to stop it from happening.
Town Planning Commission chairwoman Elaine Kittell said she fears the town could be sued if it fails to give companies like Emerging Energies the nod.
Currently, Wisconsin statute states that the only grounds on which a municipality can fight a wind turbine project are on health and safety.
The power produced by the Emerging Energies/Shirley Wind turbines would not provide energy to the four Glenmore property owners’ homes and farms, nor would it decrease their utility bills.
Over the 30-year life of the proposed project, Emerging Energies/Shirley Wind would make voluntary payments to the county, town and residents totaling $2.6 million. One-third would go to Brown County, another third to the town of Glenmore, and the property owners would share the remaining third.
The other property owners involved are Mark Mathies, 5982 Fairview Road; Dan Mathies, 4157 Shirley Road; and Dan and Tina Zeamer, 3384 School Road.
Humboldt dairy farmers Mark and Cheryl Allen can relate to what the citizens of Glenmore are going through.
They went through it three years ago, when neighboring farmer Randy Heurkens lobbied successfully to get four 120-foot Wisconsin Public Service turbines built on his land.
“It hasn’t been as horrible as we thought it would be,” Mark Allen said. “They are never running at full capacity. It does look like an industrial center, though.”
By Lee Reinsch
25 March 2007
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