Madison – Republicans in the Senate held off action Tuesday on a bill that would have sent new rules on siting wind farms back to the state Public Service Commission for more work.
The Senate voted 19-14 along party lines to send the bill back to committee rather than take it up and possibly have it voted down.
Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the Legislature say the rule that the PSC adopted last year would allow wind turbines to be built too close to nearby properties, while wind energy advocates said the rule is the product of compromise between wind developers and groups seeking to block wind farms. The rule included specific noise and shadow flicker standards designed to protect nearby property owners from any possible effect from the turbines.
Several wind energy companies have stopped development work in the state because of the state of flux in Wisconsin’s wind energy policy. Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) said the bill should have been taken up Tuesday and rejected to allow the original PSC rules to move forward and signal the state embraces investment in wind energy.
“We have now driven the development of wind energy out of this state because of this uncertainty,” Miller said. “It’s costing jobs in this state.”
The bill, which would still have to be passed by both the Senate and the Assembly, would give the PSC six months to develop a new statewide standard.
During his first month in office, Gov. Scott Walker announced a property rights bill that aimed to restrict wind farm development to move turbines farther away from nearby properties.
Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), a supporter of that bill, said that wind farms raise energy costs and harm the value of nearby homes and property.
“The wind is free, but windmills are not,” Lasee said.
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