The balance of public testimony on wind energy concluded Thursday night before the Door County Resource Planning Committee.
The public hearing was a continuation of an Oct. 4 meeting adjourned after four hours of testimony from people both for and against a proposed ordinance that would regulate wind energy in Door County.
Since the Thursday hearing concluded the testimony from the opposition, the seven people who spoke found fault with the draft document.
Two of the speakers were members of the Clay Banks Wind Energy Committee that’s been studying wind energy ordinances since June when a local, community wind developer expressed interest in developing commercial wind turbines in the southern Door County town.
The two members who spoke addressed noise – larger setbacks would handle the noise issue – and financial assurance.
Kris Jensen estimated the costs to dismantle one turbine at $325,000 to $350,000, providing a detailed estimate to stress his point that adequate financial assurance was required so costs to dismantle abandoned turbines don’t shift from the developer to the landowner.
Clay Banks resident Tom Drager, who is not a member of the committee, asked for a more well-defined section addressing the flickering shadows caused by the sweeping blades.
“I really think the whole key is distance, and trying to get public acceptance,” Drager said. “It will spoil the whole potential for wind energy for the future if there are too many problems after the first installation.”
For most of the speakers, distance was the key, and greater setback requirements desired between the turbines and inhabited structures.
The proposed ordinance requires the greater of two times the height of the turbine, or 1,000 feet.
The speakers wanted anywhere from three quarters of a mile to 1.5 miles.
“I have no problem putting these things up if you have a decent piece of ground but it should not affect the neighbors,” said Sevastopol resident Charlie Jarman.
Jarman chaired the RPC when the county’s first wind ordinance was developed in 1999. The ordinance the RPC is currently considering is a revision of that 1999 law.
John Hippensteel, one of the principals of Community Wind Energy, LLC, was the last speaker to give testimony against the ordinance.
Hippensteel said it was a “great draft,” but needed clarification in certain areas.
He also urged the committee to, “stick to real studies, and real data,” when making their decisions.
He said it would be a mistake to follow county ordinances like the one adopted by Shawano County – an ordinance praised by the Clay Banks committee.
That ordinance and others like it, “are anti-wind ordinances,” Hippensteel said.
“Any ordinance you may propose may have to be challenged in court no matter what,” Hippensteel said. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do what we think is right.”
The RPC will discuss and take action on the ordinance at its Nov. 1 meeting.
By Deb Fitzgerald
Door County Advocate
20 October 2007
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