A wind turbine placed 36-feet too close to a rural Johnsburg home has generated some controversy in this township of 1,100 in the northeast corner of Fond du Lac County.
Ordinances require that wind turbines be placed at least 1,000 feet – a distance of more than three football fields – from homes. However, a We Energies turbine located on a neighbor’s property near resident Bill Winkler’s town of Marshfield home came up short, by a little more than a first down.
Calls to Winkler’s home were not answered on Thursday.
Barry McNulty, a spokesman for We Energies, said the company is looking into why the turbine was placed in violation of town regulations. He said the company is also talking with town officials, Winkler and a neighbor who owns the property to find a solution to the problem.
“We are prepared to find a resolution, even if it means moving the tower,” McNulty said.
McNulty said the company is discussing several options, including asking the town for a waiver and making an agreement with the landowner and Winkler. The waiver, he said, could include making payments to the landowner.
A contractor hired by We Energies placed the turbine. McNulty said the company will be using Global Positioning System satellite data to make sure the other 88 turbines in the Green Field Blue Sky wind farm project are in compliance with town regulations.
“We will take whatever steps are necessary to rectify the situation,” he said. “It’s, no doubt, unfortunate.”
Relocating the 396-foot tall tower “won’t be inexpensive,” McNulty said.
“Moving a large wind turbine may not materially change the look of the property,” McNulty said.
Town Chairman Earl Steffen hung up when The Reporter contacted him for comment on Thursday. Town Clerk Connie Pickart said the township was not involved in the matter and had no comment.
The first of We Energies turbines in the area started generating power on Feb. 9. As of Feb. 21, nine turbines were in operation, McNulty said.
By Brett Rowland
22 February 2008
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