3/19/08 Where's MA going this Wednedsay? Where's PA going this Wednesday? They're heading back up to Madison again to tell the Governor we don't want wind siting reform.
WEDNESDAY! 4-7pm! COME AND SPEAK TO GOVERNOR JIM DOYLE'S TASK FORCE ON GLOBAL WARMING.
WHAT'S THIS ABOUT?
The public is asked to comment on the interim report from the task force.
One of the most surprising things about the report is the only renewable energy source it recommends for the state of Wisconsin is wind energy.
It recommends wind turbine siting reform. This will take control from local government over siting and regulation of wind farms and give it to the PSC. This same recommendation is what lead to the 11th-hour legislative bill so many of us went up to Madison to protest.
Why is it important that I comment?
If you believe your local government will do a better job of protecting your concerns than the Public Service Commission, it's important you say so.
Studies from several Wisconsin townships and counties in Wisconsin show that the PSC's is wrong in its belief that a 40 story wind turbine placed 1000 feet from your door will not cause problems, and that 50 decibels of noise won't be hard to live with. They can't tell us why they believe this, or what it's based on.
Our local governments that have studied the issue and have written ordinances to protect their residents by increasing the set back and lowering the noise limit, can tell you immediately what these set backs and noise recommendations are based on. They have sound medical and scientific reports to back up their ordinances.
If the task force's recommendation is passed into law, those ordinances will be no longer be valid, protection for residents will be lost, and the Public Service Commission will decide where industrial turbines can go in our community. This also opens the door for the PSC to decide what other industries can come into our townships and counties.
Also, there is no mention at all of protection of wildlife and natural areas in this recommendation. This is a concern because recent reports show the impacts of industrial wind turbines on birds, bats and natural habitat are more severe than previously thought. (This is one of the reasons the Madison chapter of the Audubon society opposed the bill.)
And if we don't like what the PSC decides for us, or if there is trouble down the road after the turbines are installed, guess who we have to go to complain?
In effect, this recommendation makes the PSC "The Decider". They'll make the rules that will affect our lives, property, community, farmlands and natural areas and they are also the ones who decide if our complaints about these rules are valid.
Our local government will be completely out of the picture and the system of checks and balances that democracy is based on will be gone.
The PSC will be both the rule maker and the complaints department. If this recommendation becomes law, it will require the hens to go to the fox to complain about the fox eating hens.
Your comment will let the task force know this is not acceptable.
But what about global warming?
How effective are wind farms on reducing carbon emissions?
There are big questions now being raised in Europe about how much wind farms actually reduce the gasses that contribute to global warming. Even our own National Academies of Sciences questions the impact of wind farms on reduction of green house gasses.
Wind energy must rely on thermal power plants in order to operate. This means burning coal or using nuclear plants owned by the power companies.
More wind farms can mean construction of even more coal burning or nuclear plants.
It's one of the reasons the BPRC Research Nerd believes there is wide support by power companies for wind farms. They help keep coal burning and nuclear power plants in business. Other renewable energy sources reduce power company profits. It's significant to note that wind power is the only renewable energy source recommended in this report which seems to have been written largely by representatives of power companies and wind lobbyists.
Why would they do this?
Profit. One of the most disturbing things we discovered in the interim report is how power companies interests are placed above serious environmental concerns. In the section on Energy Conservation and Efficiency we are told conservation and efficiency should be a high priority because it will have the most immediate effect on reduction greenhouse gasses. It's something that can be done right now.
Then we are told that the down side of conservation and efficiency is that it will harm the profits of the power companies. In other words, using less electricity and and using it more efficiently is not seen as a good thing. Here's how they put it in the report:
"Increased conservation and efficiency has the potential impact to erode a utility’s current earnings and diminish its future profitability for two primary reasons. First, in the short term (between rate cases), to the extent energy sales are less than forecasted in the test year, the utility will under recover its fixed costs (which include a profit margin).
Second, to the extent that aggressive conservation and efficiency (or innovative rate designs) reduces sales, this will reduce the need for capital expenditures on future utility infrastructure. While this reduction provides societal benefits, it also lowers earnings growth opportunities for utilities, since they are only allowed to earn a return on capital investment. If an entity can only earn on one type of investment, it is encouraged to make that type of investment even if another option would be less costly to its customers and society. Click here to read this at the source. Scroll to page 37)
And this brings us back to the the industrial wind farms. We believe the reason they are the only renewable energy option in this report is because they are the only type of renewable energy investment that will turn a profit for the power companies, even if other options -- in the very words of this report--- "would be less costly to customers and to society"
If you'd like to read the entire report, make a big pot of coffee and then click here.
The BPRC Research Nerd read the whole thing and came away not just unimpressed, but deeply troubled. If Wisconsin wants to lead the way in reducing global warming, this is not the right plan.
If Wisconsin wants to lead the way in making things easier for power companies to turn a profit while taking away the rights of citizens, taking away power from local government, taking away protection of wildlife, natural habitat, farmlands and rural communities, we'd say this plan is ideal.
We want a renewable energy plan that takes global warming seriously. We want the state to look into manure digesters, solar power, biomass and conservation and efficiency measures that don't put power company profits first.
If you agree with this, please come to Madison or send an email or do both. And it wouldn't hurt to let your representative and senator know how you feel about this as well. Your voice is needed.
HERE'S THE CONTACT INFORMATION:
This session will take place simultaneously by video-conference in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay and Lacrosse.
LOCATION IN MADISON!
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
Amnicon Falls Hearing Room,
610 North Whitney Way, Madison
LOCATION IN LA CROSSE!
Wing Hall, Room 102
1705 State Street, La Crosse
LOCATION IN MILWAUKEE!
Milwaukee Area Technical College
Student Services Building, Room S120
700 West State Street, Milwaukee
LOCATION IN GREEN BAY!
Mary Ann Cofrin Hall, Room 137
2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay
For those who cannot attend, please e-mail comments to DNRGLOBALWARMTFCOMMENTS@wisconsin.gov.
We need people to speak up about wind energy issues on or before Wednesday, either by attending in person, attending via teleconference, or by sending an email.
We need to let this task force know there are much better renewable energy options for Wisconsin. (The BPRC Research Nerd especially likes manure digesters because it is the only renewable energy source that actually solves other environmental problems as it works!)
It's important we communicate with this group because they are the ones that proposed what later became SB 544 and AB 899 (which was based on wind lobbyist Michael Vickerman’s proposal to them). They are already “pro-wind” but we think they have mostly heard from the wind developers, the pro-wind environmentalists who are based mostly in urban areas, RENEW, and the utilities who are under the gun to meet RPS standards. They need to hear from people who aren't getting paid and whose lives will be affected.
One thing we need to point out to the Task Force is that if this really is about global warming, more wind energy development in Wisconsin will do virtually nothing to reduce carbon emissions--and will do virtually nothing to stop the global warming and climate change. How green is an energy source that will always rely on a coal fired power plant for back up?