Concern for the environment and a sustainable economy prompted Door County Democrats to invite Community Wind Energy LLC of Door County to the group’s monthly meeting Thursday afternoon in Sister Bay.
The meeting was held at midafternoon to allow Washington Island Dems to attend a presentation by John Hippensteel, a licensed engineer and a driving force in developing plans for generating electricity from the wind on the Door Peninsula.
Hippensteel said changes in Door County’s ordinance making erecting large wind turbines very difficult are scheduled for consideration at a June 7 meeting of the county’s Resource Planning Committee.
The proposed changes would bring the Door County regulations in line with Wisconsin laws regarding sustainable energy, Hippensteel said, paving the way for the Community Wind Energy group to move forward.
Citing statistics regarding current energy generating to meet Door County’s electrical needs, Hippensteel said it would take burning 560 tons of coal or 993,000 barrels of oil to provide the power currently used on the peninsula.
Such fossil fuel burning results in 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 5,000 tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere each year, he said.
In a nationwide study of property values adjacent to 10 wind generating sites, Hippensteel said values have risen more sharply since the turbines’ installations than before.
The only exception ““ where property values have risen, but not dramatically – is in the vicinity of the 31 turbines in the Kewaunee County town of Lincoln. Several of those turbines are located directly across Door County Highway X from the town of Brussels.
The Community Energy group, Hippensteel said, would like to erect a group of five turbines on open lands ““ primarily farmland – as a demonstration project.
Ultimately, widely scattered clusters of the turbines could generate up to 80 percent of the county’s electric power needs.
The group would like to see local ownership of the $2 million units, with shares in each unit available for $1,000 a piece.
However, Hippensteel said, such an energy co-op would likely “bankrupt in a sea of paperwork” required by the U.S. securities regulators.
For now, the group is waiting to see what happens at the June RSP meeting and then develop its plans accordingly.
Hippensteel lives in the town of Clay Banks and generates twice his family’s electricity needs with a pair of small turbines on his property. The surplus power is sold to Wisconsin Public Service Corporation.
Opposition to allowing the large turbines in Door County has surfaced in Clay Banks, where a meeting today is slated for 9 a.m. at the town hall to discuss the issue.
In closing the meeting, the Democrats’ Phil Hansotia of Ellison Bay said the party should, “do everything possible to allow accurate information to reach the public.”
By Peter J. Devlin
26 May 2007
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