Today, SB 544, --the bill that will take away the power of your local government in Wisconsin to have a say about how close a 40 story turbine can be placed to your home will go to the senate floor for a vote. If it passes, the Public Service Commission will take that power. They believe 1000 feet from your door is a safe set back.
You must call your senator today to let them know you oppose this bill. You can also call or email every senator in the state to let them know you oppose this bill because their vote will affect you. You can find the contact information by clicking here:
You can also scroll down to the end of this post and find contact information for legislators in Rock County
The BPRC research nerds are heading to the state capitol first thing in the morning to visit every Senator's offce to ask them to oppose this bill in person. We ask that you take a moment to make a phone call. It's free! It's easy! It takes just a minute. The turbines will be here for the next 30 years. Tell the person who answers the phone you are calling to ask the senator not to vote for the turbine siting reform bill, SB 544 because it takes away the power of your local government.
They will ask for your name, address and phone number and will record your request that the senator not support this bill. And that's it. It's that simple. And it makes all the difference in the world.
If you decide to email instead, you'll need to include this information as well.
Below is a copy of the letter the BPRC research nerds are bringing to the senators today:
Reasons to Vote NO on SB544/AB899
1. Neither the PSC, DOA, or Wind Lobbyists have used any Health or Safety research in creating their state draft model wind siting ordinance, or in SB544/AB899.
The proposed setback distance of a 400-foot tall wind turbine from residence or occupied building is only 1000 feet. This is to cover the collapse of the turbine. There is no protection from turbine noise, or the sub-sonic "thud" created as the blades cross in front of the turbine tower. Most noise can be mitigated with a setback of at least one ½ mile, but multiple turbines compound the problem exponentially. Subsonic waves travel 1 ½ miles.
2.The Wind Lobby, utilities, and the PSC have made a false claim that industrial wind turbines are required in order for Wisconsin to reach its Renewable Portfolio Standards'(RPS) goals of 10% renewable energy generation by 2015, and 25% renewable energy by 2025. Wisconsin'snaturally occurring excess biomass, in the forms of crop residues, animal manures, native prairie grasses, and waste wood resources can replace up to 50% of the imported coal used for energy generation, saving the state close to $6 billion in imported coal costs. But, since electricity generation accounts for only 40% of our state's green house gas emissions, ½ or 25% of the biomass reserves could go towards cellulosic ethanol production, or replacing fossil fuels for heat generation.
Solar energy, like biomass, can be used for both electricity generation and heating. Solar is constantly becoming more economical, efficient, and discrete. The same cannot be said for industrial scale wind power, especially when taking into account the heavy amount of Federal tax incentives, which is shouldered by taxpayers. (see below)
3. There has been no open accounting of, or audit of, the actual usefulness of wind energy in Wisconsin's electrical grid. The Wind Industry and their lobbyists talk in fuzzy numbers that are averaged over an entire year, or selected events. There is no audit of day-to-day, or hour-to-hour electricity demands and existing wind turbines supplying the necessary generation to keep the grid functioning.
There is concern over how wind generation is used in the grid and sold as green energy. For example, the following quote is from MG&E's, Environmental Responsibility Report, page 4, under MG&E's 2015 Plan:
"Our wind capacity will grow by nearly eight times– from 11 to 86 megawatts(MW)… A portion of this energy will be included in our overall electric mix. The other part will be used to more than triple the amount of renewable energy in our green pricing program. This allows more customers to take direct environmental action by purchasing renewable energy and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from their homes or businesses."
What are consumers buying if only a'portion' of the wind energy is used in MG&E's grid mix? Used or not, wind turbine operators get to sell all of a turbine's capacity.
4. Taxpayers pick up the bill for industrial wind turbines, while farmers with turbine leases receive only pennies on the dollar for the energy produced on their land. Industrial wind turbines enjoy Federal accelerated double depreciating tax structures that allow wind turbine owners to write-off the expense of the turbine in six years. The unused portion of the depreciation can be transferred to third parties, which can utilize the depreciation against their federal tax obligations. Wind turbines also receive a Production Tax Credit (PTC) which covers the income received from selling the 'green energy'mentioned above. Wind industry proponents say an average lease of $5,000 per turbine will 'keep farmers farming', while at the same time say the wind turbines generate a meager $200,000 per year. That is a payout of only 2.5%.
Most of the Wind financing comes from the selling or shifting of the depreciation, PTC, and 'green energy'. The generation income is all gravy, so shouldn't farmers who own the land with the resource get more? For farmers, whether you own the crop or the machine that harvests it, one should get half of the value. That means a farmer should receive $100,000 per turbine not $5,000.
My family has just learned the senate will be voting on SB544 (turbine siting reform) in the last days of this session. The passage of this bill means we will have to leave our farm. There is a lot of misery in our house right now because of it. And we will not be the only ones in Wisconsin who will have to find a new place to live.
All we are asking is that this bill not be rushed through at the last minute.
It takes away the power of our local government and hands it to the PSC.
We need a legislative council study committee to look into why so many local governments have come same conclusion when writing ordinances about the siting of wind turbines. In the state’s head-long rush toward industrial wind farms, we don’t feel our legislators are hearing our voices at all.
Here in Rock County, we’ve spent the last six months researching proper siting for industrial wind turbines. Why? Because we wanted to make sure our family would be safe if the wind farm proposed near our home goes in at the 1000 foot setbacks the PSC recommends.
We now know we won’t be. Many county and township governments understand this too and are recommending set backs that will help protect us. This bill will take that protection away.
I hope you’re aware of what went on during the two 10 hour-long hearings on AB899/SB544 on Tuesday and Wednesday. We were there both days. We heard nearly 20 hours of testimony.
The room packed with citizens who took time off of work and traveled from all over Wisconsin with less than 48 hours notice to testify against this bill that will change our lives and rural landscapes forever.
Those testifying against this bill were by far the majority in attendance.
They were working people, farmers, local government officials, ecologists, college students, engineers, audiologists, builders, business people, jet pilots, conservationists, and the head of the Madison chapter of the Audubon society.
Even a Franciscan nun came to testify.
She was the head of her township’s wind turbine study committee and had also spent six months studying the issue. She came to the same conclusion so many of us have. A 40 story turbine placed 1000 feet from a home is not safe. The noise limits the PSC would impose are not safe.
She asked the PSC to challenge the research that supports their local ordinance.
She asked that the Governors Task Force on Global Warming to challenge it.
Will all her work, and the work of hundreds of others, be slapped down without even looking into it?
If you’d like a dramatic example of why so many of our local governments have created wind turbine siting ordinances that require a set back that is larger than the current state recommedation of 1000 feet, please click here to watch a turbine blowing apart. It was shown at the hearing on Tuesday.
It happened in Denmark and it was the second one to go down in the last two weeks. If you like watching explosions, this one is notable. The brakes failed during a wind storm. You’ll see what happened next. Denmark has strict setbacks of 3/4 of a mile so no one was hurt.
During the hearing, the developers, lobbyists, power companies and PSC had the first slots and spoke for as long as they wished. They made it known they have a low opinion of the capabilities of rural people and local government. They called us confused, and uneducated, and incapable of making important decisions in our own communities.
This bill basically gives a legislative second to that opinion.
And directly after the last of the paid proponents of this bill finished speaking, a 3 minute limit was suddenly imposed.
I can't tell you how stunned and angry we were at that. What a blatant slap in the face after sitting there all day being told our local governments were too dumb to figure this out and how much better it would be if the PSC had full power over this issue. It hurt.
Local governments are the bedrock of our democracy. We're not a bunch of dumb farmers. We've studied the issue and know that there are big problems with siting turbines too close to residences and farms. We can't understand how you don't know this.
The PSC says a 1000 foot setback is safe but can't tell us where they got the number and why they believe it's safe.
Local governments who have studied the issue can immediately tell you why it's not safe and provide you with reliable documentation that backs it up.
The PSC can't give you a single piece of documentation which backs up the safety the Wisconsin Draft Model ordinance, yet they are not questioned about this.
This bill was drafted without any input at all from the public or local governments.
After testimony was given by Richard Stadleman saying the Towns Association Board supported the bill, some people quit the association. Right then and there. They told us so in the hearing room. None of them were aware of the Towns Association Board’s decision to support the bill.
Later Mr. Stadleman told me he wouldn’t want a turbine near his house either. What is going on here? HELP!!!
There are much better renewable energy choices for Wisconsin.
If manure digesters had the same federal production tax credit and tax incentives as wind energy, we’d be able to solve a lot of environmental problems at once.
Don't force wind power on us when it's been proven to be inefficient and unsafe and tears our rural communities apart.
Even if I’m not in your district, I ask you oppose this bill. and to look into why so many local governments have come same conclusion about the siting of wind turbines.