4/9/10 Vice Chair of Wind Siting Council is from Rock County AND What's on the WSC docket? AND Watch the April 7th Wind Siting Council Meeting
ROCK COUNTY MAN NAMED VICE CHAIR OF STATE WIND COUNCIL
By Gina Duwe
UNION TOWNSHIP — Doug Zweizig will bring experience from developing the town of Union’s wind siting ordinance to the state level during his work as vice chairman of the council that is drafting state regulations for wind turbines.
The council is a couple weeks into its work and will keep an intense schedule of meetings to meet its goal of completing work by early June, Zweizig said.
Legislators approved a bill last fall to allow the Public Service Commission to create rules to regulate wind projects statewide. The law called for a council to draft the rules, and members needed to be representatives of specific categories.
The 15-member council includes representatives of the energy industry, uncompensated landowners, wind developers, real estate agents, medical and research experts, environmentalists and local government.
Zweizig, co-chairman of the Union Plan Commission, worked on the special committee that drafted Union’s wind ordinance. He was elected vice chairman of the state wind council, and Dan Ebert, a vice president of WPPI Energy, is chairman.
The council’s work will go to the PSC, which must have two hearings. Final copies of the siting standards will go through relevant legislative committees for revisions before taking effect, Zweizig said.
Before the new law, wind projects under 100 megawatts went through local siting ordinances, while projects 100 megawatts and larger went to the PSC for approval.
The council brings people from competing interests, so Ebert has laid out a process to have council members agree on general guiding principles before drilling into the details, Zweizig said.
One of the most contentious aspects likely will be setback distances, which have strong implications on land use, property rights and how many turbines can be sited in an area, he said.
Having uniform guidelines makes sense, he said, but they should be as good as Union’s ordinance.
Union’s ordinance prohibits construction of turbines within a half-mile of occupied structures, but the setback may be reduced to 1,000 feet with permission from property owners or neighbors.
The study committee that wrote the ordinance spent months researching health and safety aspects of setback distances and sound levels. The result was an ordinance that writers said would be legally defendable.
Zweizig said he’s not sure what the council’s regulations will look like.
“But it will be fairly quick. In a couple months, we should know,” he said.
Want to keep up with what's going on with the wind siting council?
Remember to check the docket
WHAT'S ON THE WIND SITING COUNCIL DOCKET TODAY?
Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: Wind Siting Council member Bill Rakocy is founder and wind developer for Emerging Energies, which is mentioned in the following post on the WSC docket. Rakocy is one of many Wind Siting Council members whose financial interests are directly tied to the outcome of the WSC guidelines.
Resident of St Croix County urges WSC to consider impacts on rural community.
Submitting a copy of the letter I gave to the town board of Forest,WI on Thursday 4/8/10 7pm.
To: Town of Forest Board 8 APR 10
From: Jeff Ericson
Subject: Proposed Wind Turbine Project
The proposed wind turbine project in the town of Forest has been presented from the standpoint of the developer, Emerging Energies Of Wisconsin,LLC, and the land owners whom have expressed interest in hosting turbine sites so far.
It is essential that effects on surrounding homesteads, farms and the community in general are considered before approving such a radical change to the area we live in.
The largest misconception is the understanding of what these machines really are.
The term wind mill is often used in general discussion, and is associated with the old fashion water pumps used on farms for providing irrigation or supporting livestock. The steel truss frames and the fan blades are a familiar symbol of rural life and we even have one as a decoration in our town.
The wind turbines that would be erected on the project are drastically different than this picture, these are huge industrial machines that are 300 feet tall and can be seen for miles.
The plan calls for (40) 2.5 megawatt turbines mounted on towers over 300 feet high with three 100 foot propeller blades. The Town of Forest is 36 square miles, so just about all the residents will be affected.
The current set back guidelines allows a tower to be placed 1100 feet from a private residence or 1.1 times the height of the tower from a property line, in this case 330 feet. As long as your neighboring property owner gives consent and signs a contract with the developer, there is nothing you can do to prevent living next to one of these industrial turbines.
The effects of constantly being in close proximity to these turbines are as follows:
HUMAN HEALTH RISKS - Wind turbines create both audible sounds we can hear and infra-sounds that are so low that the human ear can`t detect it. Both sound levels have an impact on the body and daily life. Residents of other communities who live near turbines have complained of the following symptoms:
1. Sleep interruption or deprivation
2. Mood swings, increased stress, anxiety, anger, and even depression
3. Nausea - effect of low decibel sounds on the inner ear - sometimes referred to as "wind turbine syndrome"
5. Heart related diseases such as irregular rhythm
6. Lack of concentration
7. Vibrating pulses or tremors felt by the body that are generated by the turbines shifting to certain positions.
8. Strobe Effect - The sun behind the rotating blades creates a flickering effect that may cause dizziness, disorientation and trigger migraines.
9. Senior citizens may be more susceptible to these symptoms
10. Restriction of emergency services - Medical flight helicopters WILL NOT fly into a turbine field
EFFECTS ON ANIMALS - PETS, LIVESTOCK, AND WILD LIFE
1. Animals may be affected much more severely than humans because of their acute senses. Low decibel noises generated by wind turbines may be uncomfortable or even agonizing for your family pet, however you may not be aware because they have no way to tell you what is really wrong.
2. Livestock issues concerning milk and beef cattle include:
- Reduced milk production
- Problems with calving
- Inflamed hearts
- Kidney/liver problems
- Increased infections due to immune system problems.
- Cows are going lame because they do not want to lay down and remain standing for prolonged periods
3. Hunting and Sport animals - Fond du Lac, Wisconsin hunters have noticed a significant decrease in deer and turkey population in their favorite hunting spots after a wind turbine system was installed in their area. The noise and sunlight flickering generated by the turbines has scared away the wildlife
EFFECTS ON REAL ESTATE VALUES:
1. The value of homes located near wind turbines decreased significantly, the only studies that find there is no impact are the ones commissioned by the wind energy industry.
2. Would anyone want to buy your home even if it is discounted? There are families in southern Wisconsin that have had to declare bankruptcy and abandon their homes. No one will want to buy a house located too close to wind turbines.
3. Land values and uses would be affected. If turbines are allowed to be erected 310 feet from your property line, forget about selling the land as an investment for the future or gifting it to family members to build their homes on.
1. Wind turbines cause disruption of radio, television, satellite TV & internet services, and cellular phones. If a tower is placed in the path of where you receive these services from, you will have spotty coverage and signal interruption.. The wind turbine developer must file plans and do studies for possible interference with the military and Minneapolis Airport Radar signatures, but nothing is required for possible effects on residential services.
Take a look at a few pictures of industrial wind turbines either on the internet or at the library, and then go out in your backyard on a calm clear afternoon, would you want them included in the view? A few things we will have to look at:
- (40) 300 foot Industrial Wind Turbines
- Over head feeder cables from the turbines
- Numerous transformers - large metal green boxes mounted on cement pads
- A substation complex that feeds the power generated to the transmission lines.
- Huge steel transmission line towers to carry the power - most likely going to Minnesota for Xcel Energy.
- Many additional gravel service roads to each tower and service points.
- Traffic during the construction and also from service vehicles after the project comes online.
NO TURNING BACK:
Once the contracts are signed in the fall of 2010 by the developer with the land owners where the towers will be sited, and the Town of Forest has no ordinances in place to regulate set backs from neighboring property owners.....CHECKMATE !!!!!!!! The town will have no legal recourse to question or even stop any aspect of the project. The majority of the residents in our area would be faced many of the issues outlined in this letter and only a small minority would benefit financially. Please review the following considerations and recommendations and make sound decisions that will benefit our community.
1. The Town of Forest board members have an intrinsic responsibility to protect the citizens that elected them.
2. All meetings with the wind turbine project developer must comply with the open meetings law and should be posted ahead of time.
3. Town of Forest board members that have signed any type of contract with the wind turbine project developer are reminded that it will be a conflict of interest if they vote on anything regarding the turbine siting.
4. Maps and details of the proposed wind turbine project should be displayed at the Town of Forest meeting hall for public inspection.
1. The Town of Forest should go into a moratorium on any wind turbine project planning or development until the new state siting rules are written.
2. The Town of Forest should appoint a committee to study the issues and recommend a local set back ordinance.
3. Adopt a resolution and send it to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission`s Wind Siting Council that states The Town of Forest supports a state mandated 5000 foot set back of wind turbines from property lines.
4. Hold a public forum on the proposed wind turbine project in June or July. Invite the citizens groups advocating public safety issues that have been formed in eastern and southern Wisconsin to attend and give presentations on their concerns and experiences.
5. Consider a special referendum vote and let the citizens of the Town of Forest decide whether or not they live in the middle of an industrial wind turbine facility.
Respectfully Submitted by,
Jeff Ericson - Resident, Town of Forest
WATCH THE APRIL 7 2010 Wind Siting Council Meeting Video
Held at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
MORE TO COME
NOTE: The PSC does not record or preserve any recordings of the meetings. However the public is free to record the live broadcasts.
What has the WSC decided so far?
Wind Siting Council’s Guiding Principles- General
Adopted by Wind Siting Council April 7, 2010
1. We will organize ourselves to arrive as consensus positions, and we will respect minority and majority positions throughout the process. In each area, we will first focus on those areas of broad agreement in arriving at a position. To the extent there are strong minority positions, we will reflect these positions in our advice to the Commission.
2. We recognize the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.
3. We support the responsible development of additional wind resources in Wisconsin.
4. We understand that the commission must balance a number of competing priorities in arriving at rule recommendations. We recognize these competing priorities—regulatory, economic, environmental, land use, health and safety, business development, landowner protections—and will arrive at recommendations that seek to achieve a balance between competing priorities.
5. We seek pragmatic, common sense solutions.
6. We encourage the development of efficient, open and transparent regulation.
7. We recognize that various governmental agencies regulate wind siting and we will be mindful of jurisdictional boundaries. We will work to ensure that the Commission’s regulations interact effectively and efficiently with those of other agencies.
8. We will be cognizant of the size of the wind energy system to which individual requirements apply.
Wind Siting Council’s Guiding Principles – Developer/Owner Responsibilities
1. Identify clear method for determining or defining what is part of the “project area.”
2. Provide appropriate and timely notice to those who are reasonably anticipated to be affected by wind development.
3. Streamline and standardize provision of information to local government.
4. Streamline and standardize decision-making process for local governments.
5. Recognize/identify situations that are not appropriate for standardization.
6. When standardization is not possible, establish guidance of some kind.
7. Standards should be clearly defined, understandable by all parties and easy to enforce.
8. Requirements should have a clear benefit or purpose.
9. Establish clear channels of timely communication between developer and participating and non-participating landowners.
10. Provide free flow of information from developer/owner to the community and political subdivision.
11. Impose lesser levels of regulations for smaller wind energy systems.
12. Identify how to define projects that are smaller, for example, turbine size v. project size; turbines constructed for personal use.
13. Provide clear avenues for resolution of complaints and concerns, and identify clear remedies.
14. Focus on broad general concepts that can address specific situations, rather than attempting to establish an all-inclusive list of specific requirements.
15. Use past examples of wind development as case studies for how best to address concerns.
What the WSC discussed today:
DRAFT Wind Siting Council Guiding Principles - Siting, Process
1. Take local features and resources into account in siting decisions.
2. Address avoidance, mitigation, and remediation of impacts.
3. Clearly identify how to apply siting criteria (i.e. measuring distances).
4. Provide access to information about siting to the public.
5. Political subdivision should accommodate a reasonable amount of siting flexibility for the developer.
6. Developer shall use reasonable efforts to anticipate the needs and requirements of political subdivision and the public.
7. Developer shall be responsive to reasonable local concerns raised during the development process.
8. Siting requirements should be transparent and provide for efficient development of wind resources.
9. Recognize that some aspects of siting are under the jurisdiction of other governmental entities.
10. Provide reasonable protection from noise impacts.
11. Health impacts should be taken into account in all siting decisions.
Wind Siting Council’s Guiding Principles – Local & Commission Process
1. Establish an open and transparent process for local government approval and appeal to the Commission.
2. Establish a clear and straightforward process for obtaining local approval and for appeals.
3. Facilitate timely decision-making.
4. Provide appropriate public notice and access to information.
5. Utilize Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 68 (Municipal Administrative Procedure) to the extent possible.
6. Local process should be as thorough and complete as possible to avoid the need for appeal to the Commission whenever possible.
7. Establish a clear process for enforcement of the rules.