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Wisconsin PSC revises wind siting rules

The Public Service Commission has made adjustments on two issues importance to the wind industry. On Thursday, the panel agreed to allow wind turbines to be built closer to homes now that newer technology helps keep the machines quieter; and approved a policy that would compensate farmers for lost crop production within a half mile of turbines if aerial spraying cannot be done because of them.

Michael Vickerman of Renew Wisconsin says commissioners decided that turbines must be at least 1,250 feet away from homes. He calls the move a victory for energy developers, because the original rule didn’t specify a setback distance between turbines and residences.

“The final rules strike a reasonable balance between protecting public health and safety and advancing wind energy generation, a proven pathway for creating well-paying jobs and increasing revenues to local governments,” Vickerman said. “By setting a maximum setback distance of 1,250 feet, the rule would not impose economic burdens on wind developers seeking to install newer and larger wind turbines now available in the market, such as the 2.5 megawatt turbines being erected at the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County.”

Legislative committees will now have 10 days to review the rules after formally receiving them. If they take no action, the rules take effect on January 1.