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Walker’s bill eyes big setbacks for wind projects  

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

A rules and regulatory reform bill proposed Tuesday by Gov. Scott Walker would require wind turbines to be set back at least 1,800 feet from nearby properties, unless those property owners consent in writing.

The bill also would require any agency’s proposed rule to go through the governor’s office before it can take effect, and expands the economic impact reporting requirements for proposed agency rules.

In a statement, Gov. Walker said, “We need to ensure that state agencies are focused on job creation. The proposed review process will make sure only the most necessary rules are implemented so businesses are no longer held back by the costs of overregulation.”

The bill itself contains a series of changes to siting requirements for wind farms that would make building wind turbines much more difficult than a rule proposed last month by the state Public Service Commission. The PSC rules would require most turbines to be at least 1,250 feet from nearby homes.

The proposed legislation would require the PSC and its wind siting advisory council to conduct an inquiry into the impact of wind farms on property values.

Wind power developers on Thursday called the 1,800 foot setback proposal a jobs-killer because it would make new wind farm projects unviable and uneconomical.

Bill Rakocy, a partner in the development firm Emerging Energies of Wisocnsin, said his Brown County wind farm, the state’s newest wind development, would have only one turbine instead of eight if an 1,800-foot setback were imposed.

The Shirley Wind project opened in November in Glenmore.

“If the setbacks are expanded further than they already have been it would create a major obstacle to wind, and the construction jobs and manufacturing opportunites that could go with it. It would be an unfortunate turn of events,” he said.

An analysis of wind projects already developed in Wisconsin by the advocacy group Renew Wisconsin found that developers would have been allowed to build one-fourth of the turbines that were erected at several different projects in Fond du Lac County, and none of the turbines at the state’s oldest wind farm in Kewaunee County.

Tom Green, senior manager of development at Wind Capital Group in Madison, said an 1,800-foot seback would make projects the firm is considering building in the state unviable, if not impossible, to build. It would drive up the cost of development and make the projects uneconomical, he said.

“We’re trying to create wind facilities that can compete with other forms of electrical generation, and provide clean renewable energy for the lowest price possible,” he said.

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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