Two state representatives from Northeast Wisconsin, Bob Ziegelbauer (I-Manitowoc) and Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake), are insisting that the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities hold a public hearing on rules governing the placement of wind turbines in the state before approving them.
The Assembly committee, along with the Senate Commerce, Utilities, Energy and Rail Committee, have final review of the rules, which were written this summer by the Public Service Commission and the Wind Siting Council, an advisory board.
The rules would set a statewide standard for regulations restricting the placement of wind turbines. Local governments could create rules less restrictive – but not more restrictive. The state rules would overrule some existing local ones that require longer setback distances from homes, for example.
Proponents say the development of wind energy in the state has become bogged down in local disputes. Opponents, however, say turbines generate relatively loud whooshing sounds and can disturb residents unless government rules prevent developers from placing them too close to homes. The rules passed the Siting Council 11-4 in August. Dissenters argued the rules were too lax.
“I have personally heard from many constituents as there are existing wind turbines in my district,” Kestell writes in a letter to State Rep. James Soletski (D-Green Bay), chairman of the assembly committee. “These are people with actual firsthand experience living with wind turbines and their perspective would be invaluable to committee members in deciding whether changes are warranted.”
In a similar letter, Ziegelbauer writes that the rules “will have lasting effects on many in our state.”
Northeast Wisconsin, particularly the Fond du Lac area, has become a focus for wind development in the state. According to a previous NewsBuzz story, although Wisconsin isn’t known for its wind resources, the state actually has more wind than others that have become leaders in wind power.
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