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Wind siting issue heads for PSC vote

Members of the state Public Service Commission will meet Thursday to vote on proposed rules aimed at standardizing Wisconsin’s rules on wind siting.

The agenda for Thursday’s meeting was posted a few minutes ago. A webcast of the 10:30 a.m. meeting in Madison can be heard here.

The discussion by the three commissioners appointed by Gov. Jim Doyle follows the release of a report last week by a wind siting advisory council created by a law that passed earlier this year.

The rules would replace a patchwork of local rules and regulations adopted by municipalities and counties. Under state law, the state PSC has final say over large wind farms – those generating 100 megawatts or more of power – while local authorities can have the final say over smaller projects.

In public comments submitted to the PSC, wind developers said the state needs uniform siting standard to keep developers interested in developing projects in Wisconsin. But opponents of wind power projects have weighed in – particularly those fighting a proposed wind farm south of Green Bay proposed by Invenergy, developer of the Forward wind project near Brownsville.

The issue has been controversial because it has resulted in a clash between the state’s renewable energy policy – seeking to open the door to more wind power for economic development and to reduce the state’s carbon footprint – against local concerns that have been raised about noise, shadow flicker and other effects of wind farms on homes close to turbines.

One option under consideration, and proposed by the advisory council, is to give property owners who don’t host turbines a financial stake in the project. The council recommended that wind developers offer easements to land owners who live near projects, in return for their commitment not to build large structures in the easement area that could interfere with power production from turbines.