MADISON – Potato-and-bean farmers would suffer devastating losses if high-tech windmills were allowed near their crops. That’s what state senators were told yesterday, at a public hearing on new rules for locating wind energy farms.
Tamas Houlihan of the Wisconsin Potato-and-Vegetable Growers Association told the Senate’s energy committee that farmers would not be able to spray their crops – and if wind farms are allowed there, the farmers should get compensated for their losses.
The state Public Service Commission adopted rules this summer for determining where wind farms should go. That was after the Legislature demanded statewide standards, as a patchwork of local restrictions essentially halted new wind turbine projects. Rural residents balked at the new state rules, saying the windmills would be too close to their homes. But wind farm developers say the proposed setback requirements are still too restrictive – and it will force them to move their new wind farms out-of-state. Element Power of Oregon say Wisconsin could lose out on a 300-million-dollar project that would create 165 jobs – plus two-million in payments to local landowners.