9/16/09 Wind siting reform bill passes in senate and assembly, and WKOW asks "How close would you want to live to a wind farm?"
Wind siting reform bill passes senate and assembly, sent on to governor for signature
September 16, 2009
Wisconsin lawmakers have sent a bill creating statewide wind farm standards to Gov. Jim Doyle.
The Democratic-authored bill calls for the state Public Service Commission to set restrictions on wind farms that produce less than 100 megawatts. Developers complain a patchwork of local ordinances have made it nearly impossible to build small farms in the state.
Democratic legislators consider the bill a key to economic recovery. They say it will clear the way for more jobs that will come with more farms. Republicans say Democrats overestimate the wind farms’ economic impact.
The Democratic-controlled Assembly passed the bill 65-31 Wednesday. The state Senate passed it Tuesday.
It goes next to Doyle for his signature. His office says he supports the bill.
Download the senate version of the bill by clicking here
Watch the Wisconsin State floor session by clicking here.
Download the assembly version of the bill by clicking here
Questions emerge over how, where to place wind farms
FRIESLAND (WKOW Channel 27) -- How close would you want to live to a wind farm? That's a question lawmakers are considering as they try to create more wind energy projects.
State Senators are scheduled Tuesday to vote on a bill (SB 185), which would direct the Public Service Commission to set a statewide set of standards on where turbines could be sited in relation to homes and businesses.
As of now, depending on the county, those tall spinning turbines can as be close as 500 feet from homes, or as far away as one mile.
Some call them renewable and graceful. Others say wind turbines ruin the scenery.
In Friesland, village president Carl VanderGalien has heard both sides.
"It's divided this community," VanderGalien said on Monday over a proposal from WE Energy for a 90-turbine project in the Columbia County countryside between Friesland, Randolph, and Cambria. Thirty-five would be within one and a half miles of Friesland's village limits.
"There are people that are against it, and people that are fine with it," he said.
In doing research and hearing from residents, though, VanderGalien wishes he had more information about health and noise effects.
"We need better facts to make the decision on this," he added.
Apart from health, other questions quality of life near a wind farm remain. A homeowner in Fond du Lac County posted this video on YouTube.
At sunset, shadows flickered off and on, inside and out.
"This effect could have been avoided of responsible setback parameters were set up," said the homeowner in the video. The home that's featured is about one thousand feet from a turbine. Stories like this had some counties push their setback requirements to a full mile.
"Essentially, the wind industry in Wisconsin is dead at the moment," said Ed Blume from RENEW Wisconsin.
Wind energy supporters like Blume said the hodgepodge of local ordinances that has resulted now makes it difficult to build any large wind farm in the state Wisconsin. "If they have to fight here to get a wind project built, and they could go to Iowa and Minnesota, they're going to go to Iowa and Minnesota."
Of SB 185, VanderGalien said he would prefer that local communities be allowed to set their own standards, adding that southern Wisconsin is generally more densely populated than northern parts of the state.
"Let local people make the decision in this," said the village President.
Even if lawmakers approve the bill, the PSC then would still have to decide on what the standard should be.
Another law requires utilities in Wisconsin to generate ten-percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015, though they could tap into wind farms in other states to meet the mandate.
[Note from the BPWI research nerd: Click on image below to see another video of Wisconsin wind farm shadow flicker]
MADISON (WKOW) --- When it comes to wind turbines an ongoing question has been how close is too close to homes?
Different counties have different concerns and thus different rules on where turbines can be placed.
Carl Agnelly looked at a bill at the capitol that tries to clean up the jumble of laws.
Right now some counties allow turbines within 500 feet of property lines, others push them out to more than a mile from homes and businesses.
The current bill would allow the public service commission to set one standard for the state.
Supporters , like Ed Blume of RENEW Wisconsin, say it will spur more investment in Wisconsin's wind industry while others think the ability to set buffers should be a local issue.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Renewable energy supporters are closely watching a bill that could greatly change the Wisconsin landscape in the future.
SB 185 would have the public service commission end the hodgepodge of county and local ordinances that establish setback standards for proposed wind turbines.
Ed Blume of RENEW Wisconsin says the wind industry is dead in the state because of the confusing nature of restrictions. For example, Shawano allows turbines within 500 feet of property lines. Trempealeau County pushes them 1 mile from residences and places of employment. In many cases, more restrictive ordinances were established after vocal critics who live near wind farms began complaining of shadow flicker and noise.
State law requires utilities in Wisconsin to generate 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015. Even if SB 185 does not pass, Blum said utilities could still meet the mandate by accessing wind power from out of state locations like Iowa and Minnesota.
Carl Agnelly is traveling to one Columbia County community that is grappling with whether to allow a wind farm near his residence to learn how local politicians are handling the issue now.
Stay tuned to wkowtv.com and 27 News at 5:00 and 6:00 for more information as it becomes available.
FRIESLAND (WKOW) -- This Columbia County community is the staging ground in the latest round of where to site wind farms in Wisconsin.
WE Energies proposing a wind farm between Friesland, Cambria, and Randolph that would include about 90 turbines. As in other locations, residents have expressed concern over possible noise, changes to the landscapes, and whether human health is ever affected.
On Tuesday, the state Senate could pick up the issue in a broader sense. Senate Bill 185 would allow the Public Service Commission to create one set of streamlined standards for siting turbines, trumping the patchwork of local ordinances that currently exist across Wisconsin.
Carl Agnelly is looking at the impact the bill could have, and hears from local lawmakers who until then must still make their own decisions on whether to allow turbines.
Stay tuned to wkowtv.com and 27 News at 5 and 6 p.m. for more details.