Town of Marshfield – We Energies is facing a 15-yard penalty of sorts after a resident flagged the power company for building a wind turbine too close to his home.
Local ordinances require that wind towers be erected at least 1,000 feet from a neighboring house, but a series of mistakes ended up with the tower being built 47 feet too close to Bill Winkler’s home.
Winkler couldn’t be reached for comment. His brother, Mike Winkler, was among the most vocal opponents of the We Energies 88-turbine wind power project.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with that,” Mike Winkler said of the tower location problem.
After the location error was discovered, We Energies hired a consultant to use global positioning system technology to measure the distance of every wind tower from nearby properties, said wind farm project manager Andy Hesselbach.
The utility’s analysis and the consultant found that no other tower in the $300 million project was too close to a neighbor’s property. The only exception: a few homes that have been built in recent years, but owners of those homes were informed that they would be building homes within 1,000 feet of where a turbine would be located.
We Energies knew last summer that the turbine site selected by a prior developer was too close to the Winkler residence, Hesselbach said, so the utility drew up revised plans moving the turbine by 85 feet, and filed those with the state Public Service Commission.
“We thought everything was all squared away,” he said.
But when contractors went to build the turbine, they had outdated maps and dug the foundation for the tower in the wrong spot, Hesselbach said.
The utility is trying to reach a financial settlement with Bill Winkler, and has met with the homeowner on several occasions.
Earl Steffen, Marshfield town chairman, said he was aware that a deal might be in the works, but added, “I don’t know if it’s going to fall through or not.”
Hesselbach said the utility expects a decision next month.
“If we were to go and relocate the turbine, there’s some time and expense,” he said. “We’d just as soon strike while they’re out there in construction mode.”
By Thomas Content
24 March 2008
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