SHEBOYGAN – An unknown developer has filed a proposal to build 16 wind turbines scattered through the southern half of Sheboygan County.
The name of the developer has not yet been released, but the proposal was filed with the Federal Aviation Administration in mid-December.
The FAA will approve the project based on whether the turbines will obstruct aircraft at their proposed height and locations.
After that, approval of the turbines will likely fall to Sheboygan County municipalities.
The proposed turbines, at 673 feet tall, would generate more energy than smaller turbines.
The proposed wind turbines are 673 feet tall, from the base to the top tip of the blade.
Roughly the height of a 60-story office building, they would likely be among the tallest wind turbines in the state, as reported by the Janesville Gazette. (Wind turbines of the same height have also been proposed around Janesville and Lincoln, Wisconsin.)
Taller wind turbines can have longer blades, which generate more power, and take advantage of wind at higher evaluations, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
According to the EIA, renewable energy sources accounted for about 21% of all electricity generated in the U.S. in 2020, and solar and wind energy accounted for most (39% and 31%, respectively) new electricity generating capacity last year.
The approval process depends on the power-generating capacity of the turbines.
If the proposed wind turbines generate more than 100 Megawatts of electricity, the project will need approval from the Wisconsin Public Services Commission. The PSC regulates all state utilities projects and large electric projects proposed by independent developers.
The PSC would review the project for need and potential environmental impacts and notify the public of the review process, which usually takes about a year, according to PSC Director of Communications Jerel Ballard.
However, if the proposed turbines generate less than 100 Megawatts, which is more likely the case, they will not need PSC approval – only approval from local municipalities.
Towns and villages with a proposed wind turbine, including Lima, Mitchell, Scott, Holland, Random Lake, Lyndon, Sherman and Adell, would make the zoning decisions necessary for their construction.
If the entire project causes more than 1 acre of disturbance or is in a floodplain, the developer will also need erosion and stormwater control permits from Sheboygan County officials, but those would not come through the county board, said Aaron Brault, director of planning and conservation for the county.
“By the time the developer is getting those permits, the project’s been through the public hearing process: typically, they’ve gotten all their proposal approvals to move forward and then they’re just getting their permits to do the work,” he said.
If approved, the tentative construction schedule for the wind turbines is spring 2024 to spring 2025, according to the FAA database.
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