Statewide standards for siting wind power projects adopted last year by state energy regulators, but opposed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, may be blocked from taking effect Tuesday.
The state Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules has scheduled an executive session for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Madison.
The meeting is scheduled for the same day that the new rules – which set standards for noise from wind turbines, shadow flicker and distance turbines can be from homes – were scheduled to take effect.
The action follows a February hearing where critics of the PSC and wind farm siting raised concerns about the rules, and supporters of wind power urged the Legislature not to block the PSC rules.
Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at the environmental group Clean Wisconsin, said in a statement Monday the committee is expected to suspend the new rules. That would mean no statewide standards are in place while the Legislature considers the more restrictive alternative – a property-rights proposal – Walker unveiled in January.
“The previous Legislature recognized that a patchwork of local regulations stood in the way of the development of safe wind farms in the state, and legislators on both sides of the aisle worked together to pass Wisconsin Act 40,” he said. “Suspending the wind siting rule will be the first step in repealing this law and will send a clear message to wind developers that they are not welcome in Wisconsin.”
The move to suspend the rules comes after legislative leaders did not schedule a vote on Walker’s wind siting bill, which would have required wind turbines to be located 1,800 feet from the nearest property line. It was the first bill proposed by the new governor during its special session that didn’t pass the state Assembly.
The Walker measure was supported by the Wisconsin Realtors Association, the Wisconsin Towns Association and the Wisconsin Builders Association, but opposed by the state’s largest business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.
Others in opposition to the Walker bill include the American Wind Energy Association and companies involved in wind development and wind components manufacturing. The bill was so restrictive that it threatened to stall $500 million in investment in the state by the end of next year, according to Renew Wisconsin, an advocacy group for the state’s renewable sector.
The PSC rule would have applied to small wind farms across the state – those under 100 megawatts – while the governor’s bill would apply to all projects, including those that have received permits but have not yet started construction.
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