Wildlife advocate Joe Breaden of Horicon says an appellate court decision supporting the progress of a wind farm proposed for construction near the Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge is a disappointment but not unexpected.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals last week affirmed a Dodge County Circuit Court decision that backed the progress of the Forward Wind Energy Center, a $250 million wind farm being built two miles from the Horicon Marsh.
Breaden is president of Horicon Marsh Systems Advocates, a 300-member group opposed to location of the turbines so close to the migratory paths of birds traveling to and from the marsh.
“Whenever you put wildlife or the environment against the mega-rich and money, they are going to lose,” he said.
The appellate court upheld a Dodge County Circuit Court ruling that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin properly issued the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Forward Wind Energy Center that would allow up to 133 turbines to be built in the Brownsville area, Invenergy Wind LLC said in a news release.
Dodge County Circuit Court Judge John Storck had ruled that the decision to approve the wind farm lies with the PCS and not the court system.
“We are pleased and at this point we are moving forward with construction,” said Mick Baird, project manager for Forward Wind, a development of Invenergy Wind LLC.
Work on the renewable power project located on a 50-square mile parcel in northern Dodge and southern Fond du Lac counties began this summer, Baird said. The first turbines will be erected later this year and brought on line, he said.
Breaden said the public has not heard the last from HMD Advocates, which has been fighting the project since 2004. The group’s petition to review documents had urged the court system to remand the approval of the Forward Wind Energy Center for further review.
“If they weren’t so greedy and would move it five miles back, away from the marsh, I wouldn’t mind if they put up 10,000 turbines,” Breaden said. “We don’t know what our next step is, but we have several options to discuss with our attorney.”
Last summer, the debate became heated when 50 anti-wind farm signs placed around the Juneau area were vandalized, and Curt Kindschuh, spokesman for the HDM Advocates, sued for $5,000 in damages.
The case, filed against Michael Elsinger of Lomira, was dismissed in May. Elsinger was scheduled to have one or more wind turbines placed on his property.
Forward Wind Energy Center will provide renewal power to four Wisconsin utilities in the state, Baird said.
“We are continuing to work with local communities and landowners,” he said.
Forward Wind Energy Center is located in the towns of Byron and Oakfield in Fond du Lac County and the towns of Lomira and LeRoy in Dodge County.
# Number of turbines – 133.
# Number of megawatts – 200.
# Size of project area – 32,400 acres of predominantly agricultural land.
# Project boundaries – County Trunk F on the north, Centerline Road on the west, Highway 41 on the east, Elm Road on the southwest and County Trunk H on the southeast.
# Nearby landmarks – the project is directly east of the Niagara Escarpment and 1.2 miles east of the eastern boundary of the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge.
# Turbine height to blade tip – 389 feet.
# Project facilities – turbines, access roads, underground and overhead cable collection system, substation, operations and maintenance building.
# Project length – easement allows turbines to exist for 30 years with an option to extend easements an additional 20 years.
By Sharon Roznik
2 July 2007
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