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Mount Pleasant approves SC Johnson wind turbines

MOUNT PLEASANT – Amid some opposition from neighbors, SC Johnson is set to build two of the largest wind turbines in Racine County at its Waxdale manufacturing facility, a project expected to supply about 15 percent of the facility’s electricity usage.

In a 6-1 vote, the Village Board approved the conditional use petition on Monday to erect the turbines at the facility, 8311 16th St. Trustee Harry Manning dissented, expressing concerns over the size – about 415 feet tall – of the energy facilities.

“The noise is going to be there. There is going to be flickering. You read anywhere, they’ve had nothing but problems,” said Mount Pleasant resident Gail Johnson, 62. Johnson said her home is located on Willow Road, right across from where the turbines are expected to be built.

However, village officials said SCJ has gone “above and beyond” to address concerns by neighbors. Conditions set by the village include ensuring the wind turbines minimize noise decibel levels and shadow flickering.

Any noise would be no louder than traffic heard on Highway 20 or Highway 11, said Christopher Beard, reputation management director at SCJ.

The company has also offered to put in additional landscaping, if needed, such as trees that may block views of the turbines from residences, he added.

In addition, after meetings between the company and some residents, including those who opposed the project, SCJ has reduced the number of turbines from five to two.

Racine-based SCJ has said the wind turbines are the latest in a series of investments at Waxdale that will enable the site to produce 100 percent of its electrical energy on-site, with about 60 percent from renewable sources.

According to Beard, a groundbreaking date for the project remains unknown. SCJ is awaiting approval for the project from the Federal Aviation Administration due to the turbines’ height, and proximity to Sylvania and Batten International airports.

The cost of the project was not available Monday, but returns in electrical savings would take years to recoup.

“But we wouldn’t propose this project unless we believed it was a good long-term investment,” he said, adding customers concerned over environmentally-friendly products now research how products are made.

Waxdale, the size of 36 football fields, is SCJ’s largest manufacturing plant globally and where it makes products such as Glad, Pledge, Raid and Windex.