Trempealeau County might be two steps away from a future in wind energy development.
The zoning committee will vote tonight on a wind ordinance, which regulates placement, noise and safety for wind developers. If approved, the proposal goes to the Trempealeau County Board for a vote June 18.
A group of local investors called AgWind Energy Partners approached the county last September with a request to build four to six wind turbines near Ettrick, Wis., and a meteorological tower to measure wind frequency, speed and direction.
The county wanted more time to research and write an ordinance, so the board placed a six-month moratorium on the building permit.
A first draft of the ordinance debuted at a public hearing April 24, where the zoning committee took feedback for the final draft.
“The comments are 50-50,” said county zoning director Kevin Lien. “There is a group that’s not against wind energy but not in their backyard. They want protection. The main issues are noise, shadow flicker and the aesthetic change to the land. Others are all for it regardless of the ordinance.”
Jim Naleid, AgWind managing director, and Michael Vickerman, executive director of nonprofit environmental organization RENEW Wisconsin, spoke against the first draft, finding it too costly for wind developers because of overly restrictive height and setback conditions.
The second draft is a step forward, Naleid said, but still strays slightly from the state’s model ordinance.
For example, the new draft says a wind turbine should be 1,320 feet away from a place of employment, residence, school, hospital, church or public library. But the model ordinance requires wind turbines be setback 1,000 feet and doesn’t mention place of employment.
Despite the extra hurdles, Naleid said wind development in Trempealeau County is still possible.
By Amber Dulek
Winona Daily News
22 May 2007
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