Chuck Hoffman, Mishicot town chairman, said he and two supervisors voted unanimously to send a resolution to the Public Service Commission that it hold a hearing related to possible health impacts of industrial wind turbines and suspend new wind farm development pending study results. But the resolution may fall on deaf ears. “Our hands are tied,” Hoffman said, in recognition of PSC rules passed by the Democratically-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Jim Doyle several years ago related to how close the wind turbines can be to the nearest house — the “setback” is 1,250 feet.
MANITOWOC – Richard Heyroth, 82, doesn’t have a “NIMBY” – Not In My Back Yard – attitude when it comes to erecting 499-foot wind towers on his dairy farm on Benzinger Road in the town of Mishicot.
Quite the opposite.
“I believe in alternative energy and wind turbines do not pollute,” said Heyroth, who has signed a lease with Hubertus, Wis.-based EE Services that may lead to the erection of four giant turbines on his land by the end of 2013.
They would be part of the proposed Beautiful Hill Wind Farm project that was the subject of a corporate presentation and public input at last week’s Mishicot town meeting. Five wind towers would be built in the town of Mishicot and two in the town of Two Rivers.
Chuck Hoffman, Mishicot town chairman, said he and two supervisors voted unanimously to send a resolution to the Public Service Commission that it hold a hearing related to possible health impacts of industrial wind turbines and suspend new wind farm development pending study results.
But the resolution may fall on deaf ears. “Our hands are tied,” Hoffman said, in recognition of PSC rules passed by the Democratically-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Jim Doyle several years ago related to how close the wind turbines can be to the nearest house – the “setback” is 1,250 feet.
County Executive and State Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer, I-Manitowoc, voted against the state legislation usurping local control over wind tower siting.
“Manitowoc County went through the process … the agony … of trying to properly address all the different points of view and came up with a compromise passed with a broad majority of supervisors,” Ziegelbauer said Friday.
The temporary suspension of “PSC Rule 128” following Republicans taking control in January 2011 has expired. Ziegelbauer said part of the reason why the rule remains in effect is a number of GOP legislators supported the original bill.
“I think it is bad we have lost local control,” the county executive said. “We have the ability to be accountable for our own decisions and we can do it better than the state … those who are 125 miles away who think they know best.”
ay Mundinger, one of the founding principals of EEW Services, said Friday the PSC scrutinized various issues and created “strong wind siting rules …(and) we intend to show the public how this wind farm will not harm the environment or create any public health issues.”
State Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, has strong words opposing supporters of wind farm projects on both health and economic grounds.
On his website Friday, Lasee posted that he is critical of the “outrageous costs to taxpayers and electrical users” stating “wind costs a lot more than other electric generation sources.”
Mundinger countered that if production tax credits go away, “we should still be able to build with current setback limits and have (wind towers) be economically viable.”
“Oil, natural gas and other energies still get tax subsidies,” Mundinger said. “It is somewhat challenging that everybody picks on wind energy and ethanol … how about a level playing field.”
Lasee also has called for increasing the distance between electric generators and people’s homes, citing studies showing lengthier setbacks mitigating harmful effects.
“Rather than do the right thing and protect our citizens, (legislators not killing PSC Rule 128) chose to protect wind developers and greenies, not homeowners,” Lasee stated. He notes one of the proposed wind towers would be within a half mile of the village of Mishicot and near the high school.
Lasee has said three families in his 1st Senate District, which includes the northern half of Manitowoc County, have had to leave their homes because of health problems connected to nearby wind turbines.
He said the health problems have been consistent – headaches, earaches, dizziness and nausea – but once the families moved away the symptoms disappeared.
But Mundinger said the PSC did take into consideration different health studies before implementing its siting rules and Heyroth said he has no concerns about future towers’ impact on his health or that of his 120 milking cows.
Mundinger vowed his company would be transparent and would continue give the Mishicot town board and the community “additional answers as we move through the different phases” of the application process.
When deciding whether he would lease land to EEW Services, Heyroth said he also considered potential local job creation. He said he would be delighted if the wind towers were built by Broadwind Heavy Industries, formerly Tower Tech, in its plant on the Manitowoc River peninsula.
Mundinger said his company has worked with Broadwind and “we intend to use any Wisconsin manufacturer we can justifiably use. We believe this is a project for Wisconsin jobs,” he said.
The default color for the wind towers built by Broadwind are white. But Heyroth opined that light blue might be an attractive color for the four that may be built on his 162-year-old farm.
He’s not oblivious to the naysayers. “I’m aware that some people are not in favor of them … but I want us to be on the cutting edge of technology and I believe wind and solar energy need to be in our future,” Heyroth said.
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