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Wind resistance: alternative energy hits snags  

Some alternative energy projects in western Wisconsin are getting the wind knocked out of them.

State law prevents local governments from passing ordinances that hinder wind energy, but alternative energy companies can still run into roadblocks along the way.

AgWind Energy Partners recently pulled the plug on a wind farm project in Trempealeau County, after facing fierce resistance from residents there. People were concerned the shadows from the blades could cause seizures, the noise from the generators would affect quality of life, and the overall aesthetics of the county would suffer, among many other concerns.

Representative Jeff Wood, R-Chippewa Falls, says county governments are obliged to hear citizen concerns with all potential business projects. “You have objection from citizens and the county government hears them out and through the local permitting process, either they get their permits denied or they’re accepted,” explains Wood.

Although, according to state law, counties cannot deny permits to wind projects unless there is a legitimate health concern, the process can still move slowly enough to discourage projects from continuing. AgWind says that was the case in Trempealeau County. The company has since moved its efforts to neighboring Buffalo County.

“When we met with folks over here, we did find a completely different attitude about the process than we did in Trempealeau,” reports Jim Naleid, managing director of AgWind Energy Partners.


26 July 2007

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