One of the largest developers of wind energy in the country canceled its plans to build a 100-turbine wind farm in southern Brown County, citing too many unknowns from state regulators.
Invenergy LLC sent letters Friday to those who had leased land to build turbines and informed the Wisconsin Public Service Commission it was canceling its contracts.
According to a corporate statement, the move is “a business decision in which we could not justify continuing to make significant financial commitments in maintaining the Ledge (Wind Energy Center) project while uncertainty persists regarding relevant project regulations.”
Chicago-based Invenergy planned to build 100 turbines in the towns of Morrison, Wrightstown, Glenmore and Holland, but the project stood idle while the company awaited guidelines from the Public Service Commission.
Gov. Scott Walker has also put forth legislation that would significantly curb wind energy development in the state.
“We’ll continue to develop other wind projects in the state that do not require as significant an investment during an unstable climate. At the same time, we’ll increase our development efforts outside Wisconsin, in states that offer more regulatory certainty,” the statement said.
While dozens of farmers and landowners had leased property to Invenergy to build the turbines, the prospect of inviting the technology into the area has divided communities along sharp lines.
“To be quite honest with you, from the onset, even prior to putting their application in, you could see it was going to be controversial,” Morrison Town Chairman Todd Christensen said Monday evening. “This project has caused a lot of division in our community so I think at least this part of it, once it’s removed, I hope the healing can start and people can get back to their normal lives.”
Wrightstown Town Chairman William Verbeten said he wasn’t for or against the project, but of all the companies that came in to promote wind energy, Invenergy was the most upfront and most willing to work with the community.
“Sooner or later we’re going to have to do something, whether it’s solar, wind energy, or I don’t know what,” said Verbeten, who had an agreement for turbines to be built on some of his property. “We as a country have to look at some type of renewable energy. We just can’t keep burning oil.”
Those who approved leases were on track to receive about $8,000 annually.
“Some of these people on a fixed income, this is what they could use. Some farms that were struggling, this was a little extra money,” Verbeten said. “It was everybody’s option, but not everyone thought it was a good thing.”
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