3/20/10 DOUBLE FEATURE: What an Illinois farming family is saying to the wind developers AND Wisconsin Big Industry is saying about Wisconsin Big Wind.
SOURCE: Bureau County Republican,
Ann Burkey Brezinski
March 17, 2010
I am writing on behalf of Eileen Burkey’s and the late Willard Burkey’s farm located north of Walnut. My great-grandparents purchased and moved to this property in the 1890s.
Since that time, my family has been devoted and faithful caretakers of this acreage. Further, we intend to continue this stewardship for future generations of our family, not just for the benefit of our family but because it is the right thing to do. We are the beneficiaries of a limited, endangered resource that should not be sacrificed.
We will not sign the Wind Project Lease Agreement for four, irrefutable reasons.
First, we will not diminish our tillable acres — either by area or by productivity. To do otherwise is both short-sighted and irresponsible. A wind turbine and its access roadways would decrease our tillable acres. The productivity of the soil would be diminished by compaction and damage to the farm tile system.
Second, we will not sign a contract that provides unilateral “sole discretion” in a LaSalle Street, Chicago limited liability corporate tenant regarding numerous matters concerning our family farm. We are obviously in this for the long haul and will not let our property be irrevocably abused and controlled by outsiders for their financial gain.
Third, the proposed Wind Project Lease Agreement is extremely protective of the wind turbine company, and it does not afford the farm owner the same legal protections. My professional reservations include the potential 70-year duration of the lease and its ramifications upon future generations.
It is impossible to predict the financial viability of the developer or its successors for that time period, or even to gauge the reasonableness of the terms for such a time period. Also, the lease’s list of easement effects will affect the quality of life of anyone in the vicinity of the turbines; this list includes everything from sound pollution to visual blight to air turbulence to radio-frequency interference, to name a few.
I question whether the proposed payment structure is sufficient to compensate for this open-ended list. Further, the lease terms provide that a landowner cannot construct any structure anywhere on his property without first meeting with the developer in order to determine a site that will not impact the developer’s rights. The overriding theme in the proposed lease is clearly the developer’s rights, not the rights of landowners.
Fourth, we are very concerned about evidence showing farmland values are lowered by the existence of neighboring wind turbines. We will not sign a contract that will detrimentally impact the farmland values of our neighbors and friends, and would hope that our neighbors and friends would have the same consideration for us.
Ann Burkey Brezinski
Current 10% Renewables Mandate Costs Too Much, Creates Unneeded Generation
Wisconsin currently has much more energy supply than it has energy demand – indeed, its excess energy supply is more than twice the amount required by law.
Unfortunately, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has concluded that Wisconsin’s 10% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) trumps our energy needs, energy costs, and statutory conservation requirements, which effectively renders meaningless those “off ramps” that were intended to serve as a safety valve should the cost of renewable energy become too expensive.
We currently get about 5% of our statewide needs from renewable generation – and we have a long, expensive way to go to meet even the current 10% RPS. Yet we have no immediate, or even short term, need for more generation. Wisconsin is building a lot of unnecessary generation at a premium cost.
Crane Creek (2008) – Wisconsin Public Service Corporation – $251 million – 99 MW
The Commission concluded that Crane Creek was not needed until at least 2021 and that no new generation was needed until at least 2018.
The Commission models showed that a natural gas turbine was less expensive than a wind farm.
WPSC has a roughly 50% reserve margin - it already has way more energy supply than demand.
Bent Tree (2009) – Wisconsin Power and Light Company – $500 million – 200 MW
The Commission approved Bent Tree with a sales forecast that did not include WPL’s extraordinary loss of electric sales over the past year and more (General Motors, Domtar paper mill and other major energy-intensive companies).
WPL requested and received $30 million in its last rate case (Docket 6680-UR-117) for the up-front construction costs of the wind farm that has not yet put any iron in the ground.
Bent Tree was the biggest line item in a rate increase request of roughly $100 million or 10%.
Blue Sky Green Field (2007) – WE Energies – over $300 million – 145 MW
The Commission approved Blue Sky Green Field even though it expressly concluded that the energy would not be needed until around 2015 - eight years after it approved the project.
The Commission recognized that the Project was more expensive than fossil fuel generation.
The Commission approved the Project because of WE Energies need to meet its RPS mandate.
Glacier Hills (2010) – WE Energies – up to $452 million – 200 MW
The Commission concluded that WE Energies needed Glacier Hills in order to meet its RPS mandate, not because it needed more generation.
In her concurring opinion, Commission Azar recognized that WE Energies - and the state as a whole - may soon be exporting energy that it does not itself need, given “the current excess of capacity in Wisconsin.” And yet, the PSC still approved this project.
WE Energies still plans to spend over $1 billion in new projects to comply with the 10% RPS law.
A decade ago Wisconsin’s electric rates were among the lowest in the country; now, its rates are among the highest in the Midwest. These four wind projects alone will cost ratepayers at minimum $1.5 billion and they are or will soon be producing energy that Wisconsin does not currently need. The reason the Commission approved these projects was to meet the current 10% RPS mandate, and we are only at 5% statewide right now.
The Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming recommends boosting the RPS to 25 percent by 2025. Imagine what a 150% increase in RPS requirement will do to customer bills, at a time when the generation simply is not needed. We will be generation rich, yes. But cash poor.