Ninety wind turbines will rise in the skyline in Columbia County’s towns of Scott and Randolph next spring, but not before their components make a stop in the neighboring down of Courtland.
The County Board’s planning and zoning committee Tuesday granted a conditional use permit to allow 12 acres of a 40-acre land tract (with multiple owners) to be utilized as a staging area for the construction of We Energies’ Glacier Hills Energy Park.
Planning and Zoning Director John Bluemke said the land is being used for agriculture and must be restored to that use once construction of the wind farm is finished – but no later than Nov. 30, 2011.
In January, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, which oversees the state’s utilities, granted We Energies permission to build Glacier Hills, which is likely to be the state’s largest wind farm. Another We Energies wind farm, Blue Skies Green Fields in Fond du Lac County, has 88 turbines.
We Energies is building the wind park to increase the amount of energy it generates through renewable resources. It is expected to generate up to 207 megawatts of electricity.
Art Ondrejka, operations manager for Vestas American Wind, which will build Glacier Hills Energy Park for We Energies, said plans call for the segments of the turbines’ towers to arrive by truck from Manitowoc. Other components, including the blades and housing, will come by train from Colorado – which is why Vestas wanted a siting area with easy access to railroad tracks.
Ondrejka said trains will deliver components of the turbines from May through August 2011, with one trainload arriving weekly for 11 weeks.
The parts would be off-loaded in the staging area, then distributed to the various sites where the 90 turbines, each about 400 feet tall from ground to the highest blade tip, will be built on leased farmland, covering a 17,300-acre footprint in Scott and Randolph, Columbia County’s northeasternmost towns.
The town of Courtland is located just south of the town of Randolph. And, as Courtland Town Supervisor JoAnn Wingers (who also is a Columbia County supervisor) pointed out to the planning and zoning committee, “There are no turbines going up in our township.”
Wingers said the Courtland Town Board approved of the plans for the staging area, which would be located just off Fordeg Road – particularly since Vestas plans to build a temporary driveway on the property, instead of using Fordeg Road as its primary drop-off site.
We Energies has entered into an agreement with Columbia County to repair any damage incurred to county roads during the turbines’ construction, and Wingers said a similar agreement governing town roads in Courtland is in the works.
According to Columbia County Supervisor Doug Richmond of rural Lodi, the planning and zoning committee may grant a conditional use permit for the staging area without bringing the matter to the full County Board.
The committee did so by a 3-1 vote, with Supervisor Fred Teitgen of the town of Dekorra casting the sole dissenting vote.
Teitgen said he based his vote on his general opposition to the construction of wind energy farms in rural areas, because Wisconsin does not generate enough wind to operate them, because neighbors of existing wind farms complain about noise and health hazards related to them, and because he thinks Wisconsin should focus on more feasible forms of renewable energy such as nuclear power.
“This large turbines, in my opinion, constitute a blight on our rural landscape,” Teitgen said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding