One thing was painfully clear after seven hours of testimony at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s public hearing in Forest Township on Thursday.
We’re glad none of us at the newspaper have the job of deciding if Highland Wind Farm’s application should be approved or rejected. There are passionate people on both sides of the issue, and they all have their valid points of view in the matter.
It is a shame, however, that the PSC can’t issue a proclamation along with its decision that would somehow help restore the close-knit community’s neighborly heritage. The current tone of the public debate related to the wind farm proposal would lead most people to believe that the wounds opened up by the controversy will not easily be healed in this generation.
The whole mess might cause one to think that Wisconsin wind farm siting regulations are still in need of further tweaks. It would make sense, we think, if landowners within a couple miles of any proposed wind turbine, or any structure that would be nearly 500 feet tall, would receive an official notice outlining the specific details of a planned installation the moment the idea starts to take hold.
For something that will likely change a community’s landscape for decades, normal meeting notices just don’t cut it.
Sure, the Public Service Commission conducts public hearings prior to the actual approval. But those hearings come only after a project’s planning process is already well down the road.
In short, we think notice and transparency requirements could certainly be improved upon so that more communities don’t have to suffer through a similar, painful process that ends up harming relationships and tearing down communities.
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