2/25/10 Wind Project Picture of the day AND Knock Knock. Who's there? It's the same We Energies representative you've already said no to three times this week AND What about that meeting in Brown County?
Construction of Wisconsin's largest wind farm put on hold as WEPCO struggles to find willing landowners: use of eminent domain may be only option.
A resident in Columbia county has contacted Better Plan to say We Energies representatives are scrambling to find enough landowners willing to sign the easements needed to begin construction on the Glacier Hills wind project which is set to occupy the Columbia County Towns of Randolph and Scott. The 90 turbine project which was recently approved by the Public Service Commission, would be the largest in the state.
We Energies representatives are reportedly offering residents a signing bonus of $5000 for completion of contract paperwork by February 28th. The contracts offer landowners a yearly payment of $2,000 with a 2% annual increase. Residents report these numbers can vary widely depending on the importance of a particular easement to the project.
The easements would give We Energies permission to create turbine noise that will exceed the limits set for homes by the PSC. The easements would also allow such things as trenching for laying cables and transmission lines needed to connect the turbines along with other rights We Energies may need. The duration of a contract of this sort is usually a minimum of 40 years and runs with the land.
Some residents who have refused to sign contracts say they are still being hounded by We Energies representatives who won’t take no for an answer.
“They’ve tried to make contact with me three times already in the last several days” says Kristine Novak, whose home would be inside of the project. “They are going house to house.”
We Energies representatives may not find a lot of welcoming faces in a sharply divded community still reeling from the PSC’s decision to approve the project.
“I guess the best way to describe the feeling in the area is shock,” said the resident who wished to remain anonymous. “Hard feelings that developed earlier have now become worse.”
Those hard feelings may well extend to the We Energies Representatives who are now desperate to make deals. Says the resident, “Landowners are telling them to ‘get the hell off my property.”
He believes the tension in the community is so high that should We Energies decide to force the project through by use of eminent domain the consequences would be serious. “People around here will only take so much,” he said.
Better Plan invites residents affected by the Glacier Hills wind project to contact us with their stories.
We hope reporters in our state will follow up on this news-tip and find out more.
Public Airs Concerns and Support at Wind Energy Meeting
A Chicago company wants to build wind turbines on towers 400 feet tall in southern Brown County, using private land in Morrison, Hollandtown, Wrightstown, and Glenmore. If it's fully realized, it would become the largest wind farm in the state.
Those fighting the project held an informational meeting Thursday night, and hundreds showed up. Emotions ran high in the meeting.
"This is an industrial factory that's being dropped over some of the best farm land in Brown County," Sandra Johnson said.
"Wind is a good thing. I'm not against wind energy, we're just against the locations right now. We need to have some better setbacks and in a lot less-populated communities," David Vercauteren of Greenleaf said.
The Ledge Wind Energy Farm would be a 150-megawatt project with roughly 100 turbines.
Those backing it say it would give the county a big financial boost.
"This is a project that offers tremendous benefits in terms of new tax revenue to the county, helping farmers who were struggling, with jobs," Barnaby Dinges of Invenergy said.
Still, those who live nearby raised fears of stray voltage, shadow flicker, and noise issues.
Some say if it's built, they'll leave.
"If they go up as they're predicting, we very likely will move," Johnson said. "The problem is, land depreciates once you're in that turbine ghetto. People don't want to come. People aren't interested in buying it."
Right now the Wisconsin Public Service Commission is taking comments on the project. A public hearing will take place later this spring.
If approved, construction will likely start in 2011.