Today the Assembly Bill 256 passed during an executive session held by the Assembly members of the Energy and Utilities committee.
AB 256 is the bill that will strip local governments of their power to regulate the siting of wind turbines in their municipalities and give this power to three appointed members of the Public Service Commission.
It will also over turn any large wind ordinances which have been adopted in our state.
There were a few amendments to the bill which we are still reviewing.
This is the letter Better Plan has sent to members of the committee who voted to pass the bill. [There were two votes against the bill, coming from Representatives Zigmunt and Peterson, to whom we sent our thanks]
I attended the executive session today.
For those of us there who are deeply concerned about how AB 156 will strip power from local government and give the power to regulate wind turbines in our state to three appointed members of the PSC, -- with no real checks or balances in place— your yes vote was troubling.
I was dismayed to hear the ordinances already passed in our state will not be allowed to stand if this bill passes as written and that a local government will have no right to appeal this.
The six Towns and two Counties who have passed ordinances which regulate wind energy systems for reasons of health and safety followed the letter of the statute as written. It seems these ordinances should at least be challenged on their merits and not simply overturned.
I’m not sure if you know that an open records request from the Town of Union (Rock County) found the PSC used no scientific or medical data to come up with its 1000 setbacks or 50dBA noise limits. Nor could it provide any supporting documentation.
On the other hand, the six Wisconsin Towns which have adopted ordinances with a 2640 foot setback are supported by the National Research Council (2007), the Congressional Research Service (2008) and a white paper issued by the Minnesota Department of Health (2009)
I hope you will consider an amendment which puts the issue of creating state setbacks and noise into the hands of the Wisconsin Department of Health, which is the appropriate agency to deal with this important issue.
As it stands, our state has just over 300 wind turbines. Most of these have only been operational for one year. 12,000 to 14,000 more turbines will need to be sited in our state by 2024 in order to meet the state mandates.
This means so many residents in our state will be affected by this that it’s vital that the health and safety issue be seriously addressed. AB 156 as written leaves a rather large elephant in the room. It would be good to settle this health and safety issue once and for all.
If you would like to speak directly to residents having trouble in PSC-approved wind farms in our state, there are a couple hundred of them who would be very glad to talk to you about what life has been like since the turbines went on line. I’d be glad to put you in touch with them.
Best to you, and though we don’t agree on this bill, I thank you for your work.
Better Plan, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Tax-Payers for a Better Renewable Energy Plan
PO Box 393
NOTE FROM BETTER PLAN: If you would like to contact members of the committee, click on the names below