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Coalition: Reform proposal could stall wind farms, jobs  

Credit:  By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com 11 January 2011 ~~

A coalition of 15 wind power developers and manufacturers of wind components says a proposal by the Walker administration could make it more difficult to build wind farms in the state.

In his first executive order since taking office, Gov. Scott Walker included “requirements for wind energy systems” as one of several regulatory reform proposals being developed by the administration. Details of the administration’s proposal are pending.

The wind siting rule, developed in response to a bill that called for uniformity in wind standards across the state, was completed in December after nearly a year of work by the Public Service Commission and a wind siting advisory council. It calls for wind turbines to be built at least 1,250 feet from nearby residences, or 3.1 times the height of a wind tower.

The wind firms said Tuesday proposals that would make wind siting more restrictive could send wind developers, and the construction and manufacturing jobs linked to wind power, out of state.

“Repealing or modifying the wind siting law will send a message to manufacturers, developers, and investors that Wisconsin is not open for this particular business, which can which can be a key contributor to Wisconsin’s manufacturing renaissance,” the group of businesses, including both developers, turbine manufacturers and other firms, said in a letter Tuesday to Walker and legislative leaders.

The thorny issue of how close wind turbines should be built to nearby homes has dogged the state’s energy policy for several years. The Legislature wrestled with the issue before deciding to forward the matter for the Public Service Commission and an advisory council to debate.

Before developing the siting standards for small wind farms, the PSC had applied less restrictive standard to utility wind projects.

In its Blue Sky Green Field wind farm in Fond du Lac County, We Energies was required to build turbines at least 1,000 feet from nearby homes.

More recently, the PSC tightened the standard for We Energies’ latest wind farm, Glacier Hills, northeast of Madison. No turbine can be within 1,250 feet of nearby homes in that project, which is now under construction, the PSC said.

Several lawmakers had raised concerns about the new rule but did not object after the PSC adopted a compromise version of the wind siting rule in December.

That rule is slated to take effect March 1, once the Legislative Reference Bureau has published the new rule, said Lee Sensenbrenner, PSC spokesman.

Source:  By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com 11 January 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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