Union wind recommendations could be used in state discussions
By GINA DUWE
Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008
UNION TOWNSHIP — A draft wind ordinance developed by a town of Union committee should be an example state officials consider during discussions of state wind turbine siting standards, state Rep. Brett Davis said.
Because wind energy regulation is a controversial statewide issue, Davis said he will push for a legislative council study committee to discuss the issue.
“I think there are so many competing interests that are involved from all different sides that everyone needs to sit down at a table and really work through this,” he said.
Davis, R-Oregon, met with members of the Town of Union Wind Study Committee over the past few months while they researched and developed a draft ordinance regulating wind energy. Committee chair Tom Alisankus presented the recommendations to the plan commission Thursday night.
Wind turbines in the township would need to be at least one-half mile from homes and 1,000 feet from property lines, according to the committee’s draft ordinance.
“I think the people that were working on the ordinance did a good job in terms of the background and reasoning,” Davis said. “(They) based and grounded it in fact.”
The town of Union committee’s recommendations should be considered if a state committee is formed, he said, and local residents could sit on such a committee.
Davis said he’s not suggesting the state come up with specific regulations, but said the state’s model ordinance is potentially outdated.
The Union committee brought legitimate questions to the state on how it developed the model ordinance, Davis said, and officials could not answer them appropriately.
“Which raises some red flags and needs to be revisited in terms of how to move forward,” he said.
State officials and interested parties met this week to discuss establishing a process for a state model, similar to the state’s new livestock siting law, said Richard Stadelman, executive director of the Wisconsin Towns Association.
Stadelman has reviewed the town of Union’s proposed ordinance and said it is very detailed. Since the setbacks are less than other ordinances in the state, he said the proposal would be more defendable.
Trempealeau County, for example, passed an ordinance in December with setbacks of 1 mile from homes, he said.
But Curt Bjurlin, Wisconsin project developer for EcoEnergy, said the proposed setbacks eliminate any land in Union Township for a wind energy project. EcoEnergy is proposing to build three turbines there.
“We think the draft ordinance that was presented was designed to ensure that the project wouldn’t go forward—that the status quo of how we make energy today would continue,” he said.
Alisankus disagreed, saying that’s the opposite of what happened.
When he was asked to chair the committee, Alisankus said he did so with the agreement that personal feelings would be put aside and the facts of the research would be the basis for recommendations.
The committee wanted its ordinance to be able to withstand challenges from the wind industry, so it had outside lawyers review it and let the facts lead the discussion, he said.
2/2/08 Gambling on a 40 story turbine. Are all the kinks worked out? What happens if it doesn't work?
Wind power on hold
February 2, 2008 by Julie Buntjer Worthington Daily Globe
Officials with the wind farm, developed by Clipper Wind, discovered late last summer there was a timing issue in the secondary stage of the power train.
"It was ... what we would call a start-up issue - supplier related," said Mary McCann-Gates, director of global communications for Clipper Wind's Carpinteria, Calif., office. "In a nutshell, some of the power trains that we made early on had a timing issue on some of the gears."
To prevent further damage to the gears, McCann said the affected turbines were shut down. The process to replace the drive trains with correctly-timed gears is ongoing, and she doesn't yet know how soon the repairs will be completed.
"As we bring one down, we have a new one that has arrived from the manufacturing facility that we're putting right up there," she said. "All of the turbines at Endeavor don't have the same gear timing issues. Some of them are just fine."
McCann said that as workers replace the power trains, they are also making reinforcements on the blades.
"These blades have to last 20 to 25 years," McCann said. "Since we have the blades down, we feel we have the opportunity to reinforce these blades."
The biggest challenge - and the greatest delay in completing repairs - is the weather, McCann said.
"Working on these blades, the fiberglass material has to set properly; it has to be heated to a certain temperature for it to cure properly," she said. "It's a very precise process. While it's not going to take a tremendously long time, we want to take the time to do it properly."
Both the affected blades and power trains were manufactured at Clipper Wind facilities in Iowa.
McCann said the components, developed for the 2.5 megawatt Liberty C93 wind turbines, began being mass produced in 2007.
"It's like with anything. You see this with cars where you have a recall here or a fix there," McCann said. "This is our first production of a brand new turbine. With a new product, there will be some teething issues."
Despite the "teething issues," McCann said there hasn't been anything wrong with the design of the turbines. The power train timing issue has been corrected by the manufacturer, and the change has been implemented in all of the new blades coming out of the factory, she added.
"For the most part, it's a fabulous project," she said. "These are turbines that have been built in Iowa, installed in Iowa, and they are the largest turbines built in the U.S."
The Endeavor Wind Farm at Harris was purchased by Florida Power & Light in August 2007. Because of the repairs Clipper Wind must make, the acquisition process has not yet been completed.