The wind developer in our area is developing projects in different parts of our state and also in Illinois. The representative of the company, Curt Bjurlin, seems to care less that our local government wants to have a say about what happens in our community. He seems to care less that residents would like safe setbacks which protect our health and safety, our property values and peaceful nights. Our community asks for a set back of 2640 feet instead of the 1000 feet his company wants. Because of this, he and his company plan to override the wishes of the local residents and government and go to the PSC. He and his company believe they have what it takes to take what we have. Do they?
Please attend a critical public hearing on July 3rd, 7:00 PM at the Magnolia Town Hall, (county road A, west of 213) where the town board will be voting on an ordinance that will give us safe setbacks. Mr. Bjurlin has attended several of these meetings and perhaps he will be there on Thursday to let us know why he believes his corporation should have say over the people who live here. He, of course, doesn't live in our community. Nor does he live in Calumet County where the company he represents is trying to do the same thing. In fact, our guess is he doesn't live in any of the communities that will be affected by his company's style of wind development against local people's wishes.
The following article appeared in Milwaukee's "Daily Reporter"-- (click here to read it at its source)
Even though EcoEnergy Engineering LLC may not have to abide by a Magnolia Township ordinance on wind-farm development, town officials are determined to speak up on behalf of their residents.
And they have a lot to say.
EcoEnergy wants to build a 100-megawatt project that could cover anywhere from 7,000 to 8,000 acres, but the town's Planning and Zoning Committee just passed an ordinance requiring a half-mile setback distance from homes and businesses. The ordinance will go before the Town Board July 3.
"In an ideal scenario, you want strong and broad support from the local community," said Curt Bjurlin, Wisconsin project developer for the Elgin, Ill.-based company. "We still want to hear everything they have to say."
Since the Magnolia project looks to break the 100-megawatt mark, the Public Service Commission, not the town, will make the final call on the project.
"Maybe we're doing (this ordinance) in vain," said Town Chairwoman Fern McCoy. "But I think wind farms should be regulated in accordance with health and safety, and we would like to see developers follow our rules."
McCoy said the ordinance is a direct result of EcoEnergy proposing a wind farm in the area.
Trempealeau County last year set a one-mile setback distance from homes, schools and businesses. Developers argued that left them with no available space. And while a bill was pushed through the Legislature earlier this year to give the state final say in setback distances and location of wind farms, that legislation never made it to the governor's desk.
"Wisconsin is a difficult state to site wind turbines in," Bjurlin said. "I think it has a long way to go before it will be where Illinois or Iowa is, and that has a lot to do with getting state and local governments to be able to work together."
Difficult though it may be, Bjurlin said it doesn't deter developers from looking at Wisconsin.
"We're slated to become the world leader in wind energy production by the end of this year," he said. "But we still have a long way to go. The federal goal now is to get 20 percent of our energy produced by wind by 2030.
"Wisconsin is going to be key to that."
That's fine, said Town Supervisor David Olsen, but it doesn't mean people want to see turbines just anywhere.
"I have a feeling people don't want to be 1,000 feet from a 400- foot structure that moves," he said. "The whole issue is just finding open areas where there is no development."
Olsen said the ordinance the town has now stipulates residents and neighbors can agree to shorter setback distances. But in the wind-friendly parts of the state, Bjurlin said a lot of open, undeveloped space is difficult to come by.
"And half-mile setbacks aren't going to help things," he said. "We'd probably have to look at state legislation that takes a whole new look at how to site turbines."
McCoy said if the town works to keep turbines from coming too close to people's homes and the PSC reverses that call, he will be glad the town advocated for its residents instead of giving in to wind developers.
"We live in the community," he said. "We understand. We answer the phone calls when something is wrong. Does the PSC or the state help someone out right away if something's wrong?"
It's not just the turbines: Photos of wind farm substation being built in Fond Du Lac County, Summer of 2007
Wind farms bring with them an unexpected industrial landscape.
Farmer's fields see a lot of damage from big machinery
Did this farmer know what he was getting into?
Most of these contracts are good for 30 to 40 years. Would you sign one?
Did this farmer know they'd be cutting trenches diagonally across his field?
Did he know they would put turbine access roads where ever they liked? The contract lets them do this. Did the farmer read the contract?