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Boards tell developer wind turbine plan is ‘incomplete’

TOWN OF HOLLAND – Developers of a controversial wind farm proposal were told a report they presented Wednesday night was incomplete.

Hubertus-based EEW Services, LLC, made its first proposal to build a wind farm in the Town of Sherman at a joint meeting of supervisors from the Town of Sherman and Town of Holland.

Supervisors unanimously voted the application was incomplete because it failed to address numerous requirements in both the town ordinances and Public Service Commission requirements.

Town attorney Matt Parmentier concluded the application was incomplete because it doesn’t “contain all the information the town ordinances and PSC requires.”

Parmentier cited a vague project size, type and location, among others, as reasons for his conclusion.

“The application discusses a lot of things generally but doesn’t provide a lot of specifics,” Parmentier said. “We’re still digesting everything and seeing what’s there and what isn’t.”

Parmentier’s conclusion was supported by Bruce Ommen, who represented design consulting firm Ayres Associates, and Paul Schomer, who represents Schomer & Associates, a consultant in acoustics and noise control.

Schomer wants assurance that the turbines will not exceed the noise requirements in the ordinance and PSC, among other concerns.

The turbines are required to be at or below 45 decibels at night and 50 decibels during the day.

Members of the boards are also concerned about potential impacts of shadow flickering and noise from the turbines.

EEW will now have to make changes and present a new application at a future town board meeting. Parmentier said there is no deadline for EEW to respond to the plan.

EEW has the option to appeal the rejection to the PSC if it determines the towns are exceeding their rights to reject the plan.

If and when EEW submits a new plan, the town boards will have 45 days following the submission to review the new application.

EEW hopes to begin construction this year on the Windy Acres Wind Farm on 400 acres in the Town of Sherman east of state Highway 57, west of county Highway CC and north of county Highway A. The turbines would also connect to a substation in the Town of Holland.

Local officials began reviewing the application for the wind farm in April after the Town of Sherman passed a wind ordinance, giving the town 45 days to review the application.

Town officials have asked state regulators to waive those time constraints given unresolved questions about the potential health risks associated with wind farms and a lack of clarity under state law on how wind farms can meet noise standards.

Those concerns halted EEW’s proposal for a $250 million wind farm in St. Croix County in northwestern Wisconsin. The Public Service Commission voted to deny a construction permit for the wind farm and then rejected the developer’s appeal.

The company has since filed new information on that project with the state that shows it can comply with the noise limit.

Sherman officials say the PSC acknowledged in denying the St. Croix project that further study is needed regarding health concerns.

The wind farm proposed in the Town of Sherman would consist of four wind turbines that could generate up to 12 megawatts of electricity or enough for about 4,000 average-sized residential homes.

Board members want to ensure that Windy Acres doesn’t install any more than four turbines.

Wisconsin law places wind farm siting decisions almost entirely in the hands of the state PSC, as state wind turbine-siting rules supersede local ordinances. However, the project still requires formal approval by the Sherman and Holland town boards.

There are 500 or so property owners within 1 mile of the proposed site, with some of those residents having already formed an opposition group, Sheboygan County Communities for Responsible Energy.