5/27/09 Channel 3 Madison reports on the Worry in Columbia County: Why people who signed on with wind developers are having second thoughts. AND Video of what PSC-approved setbacks in our state actually look like.
Some Columbia County Residents Question Wind Farm Project
Proposal Goes To Public Service Commission In July
CAMBRIA, Wis. -- A proposal to build a large-scale wind farm in Columbia County is being questioned by some of the same people who first supported it.
The project set to begin building in mid-2010 would install more than 90 wind turbines throughout the townships of Randolph, Scott and Cambria.
But dozens of residents of those communities gathered Tuesday night for a special meeting, where many expressed their concern about the wind turbine project and the negotiations between the power companies and some township of Randolph board members.
The more Gary Steinich learns about the two wind turbines soon to be installed in his field, he said the more he regrets signing on.
"We're not against the wind towers. We're against having them this close to people's homes," Steinich said.
The Steinichs and other neighbors are asking their town board to review the proposed wind farm project, and they're asking the Columbia County district attorney to investigate a possible conflict of interest involving two town board members. [Click on image below to watch Madison Channel 3 News story]
"If this process goes through and their wind farms are developed also, (they've) worked essentially in (their) best interest to do it," said resident Scott Chase, who wants an investigation.
Town of Randolph Chairman David Hughes supports the proposal and said a wind turbine will go up, but not on his property."I was involved with another company, it's called E-Wind, but I'll have the papers in my hand tomorrow selling that land to my son. I originally was planning to sell it to him in three years anyway,"Hughes said.
Steinich said he's concerned that the six-year-old project keeps changing."They want to extend the term of the lease from 30 years to 40 years now," Steinich said.
We Energies in Milwaukee said that until a final decision is made in July, it's willing to make changes."The project has changed a bit because we did inherit it from Florida Power and Light, and since we've acquired that we've held open houses (and) gone door to door," said Barry McNulty, spokesman for We Energies. "We certainly want to hear and listen to what they have to say so hopefully we improve upon the project.
"Regardless of the outcome, Steinich said he is worried most about neighbors who didn't have a say in the project."They bought that farmland with the intentions that they were never going to run into anything like this," Steinich said.
Some residents concerned about conflicts of interest said that each landowner who agrees to have wind turbines installed gets some money, reportedly up to $6,000.
A final decision on the proposal will come on July 13 when it goes to the Public Service Commission.
Some residents also said they have health concerns about living near wind farms. They said their research indicates that wind turbines, specifically the noise they emit, lead to dizziness, nausea and other health complications. But We Energies said there are no proven studies to support that.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: Click on the image below to see what PSC-approved setbacks look like in our state. This is what residents in the Towns of Randolph and Scott can look forward to. This video was shot in the Butler Ridge wind farm on May 2nd, 2009 near Iron Ridge, Wisconsin.