A couple months back I attended a wind expo at the Chilton High School.
Curt B. with Eco Energies was giving a presentation to a small group when I walked up. He was talking about their wind project in Dane County. The project consists of only six turbines, setbacks greater than 1,000 feet and many fewer people per square mile than Calumet County.
I was discussing the Calumet County project with him and he told me that anything greater than 1,000-foot setbacks from homes would “kill the project.” I asked what he meant by that. Can they not put up any turbines or would it just reduce the number? He said it would reduce the number. I then asked why don’t they just put in as many as will fit with safe setbacks. After all, they are only putting up six in Dane County, why do they need to put 66 here? His response was, “economics; we spent too much time and money to reduce the number of turbines, in fact we’d like to do a larger project.” Interesting. And here I thought when they said green they were talking about the environment.
I also asked him about property value reduction. He told me a study was done by Lawrence Berkley National Lab and their conclusion was that property values were not affected. I looked him in the eye and asked him, if there were two similar houses, one near a turbine and one not, which would he choose. To his credit he blushed and did not answer me.
The wind companies are in it to make a buck; they don’t care about the mess they leave behind. If there are issues with communications (cell, TV, radio), noise or anything else, good luck getting it resolved after the turbines are up. This is why we need a well thought out and researched wind ordinance. I believe the Ad Hoc Committee of Calumet County has done its homework and presented the board with good recommendations. Now we need responsible representation from our County Board.
No matter what decisions the board makes, someone will be unhappy. However, I do have to question some of the members. For example: Chester Dietzen voted no to:
1. Restricting the number of hours shadow flicker is on homes
2. Penalties up to $1,000 (an insignificant amount) for violations of wind regulations
3. Requiring reporting of hazardous spills to Calumet County Sheriff’s Department
4. Requiring certain specifications for groundwater surface water protection
5. Requiring a setback of 1.1 times the height from railroads, which would be consistent with the requirement for roads.
Who is being represented? Doesn’t sound like the citizens of Calumet County.
6 February 2008