Madison – Rules for the wind industry crafted when Democrats ran state government will likely go into effect after a Republican effort to block them failed Wednesday in the state Senate.
The Public Service Commission wrote the rules, but Republicans temporarily stopped them when they took over the Legislature in the November 2010 elections. To permanently prevent the rules from going into effect, they needed to pass a bill by next week, when the legislative session ends.
Senate Republicans put forward a bill requiring the PSC to write new wind rules, but they pulled the bill back Wednesday because they didn’t have the votes. Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) said there was no way to get the measure passed and that the old rules would go into effect.
Republicans control the Senate 17-16. All the Democrats and Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) opposed blocking the rules, meaning Republicans were one vote shy of passing it.
The failure of the wind bill came a day after mining legislation failed because Schultz sided with Democrats in opposing that measure.
Schultz said he opposed blocking the wind rules because the wind industry, which has operations in his district, needs certainty after recent years of tumultuous policy making for wind energy.
“If we send this back (to the PSC), we just further indecision on this,” he said.
In the past year, construction of wind farms has stalled as Republicans have debated how best to balance property rights and efforts to boost renewable power.
Lasee wanted the PSC to establish new rules that would require wind turbines to be placed further away from homes because of health concerns.
“It’s just not right and shouldn’t be happening in our state,” he said of the rules about to go into effect.
Lasee blamed Senate Democrats and Schultz for blocking the bill, but also said it would have had trouble getting through the Assembly.
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