6/29/10 In the News: Their money or your life? Wind Goliaths and Local Davids testify at wind siting hearings. Who will the PSC listen to? AND Who are you, Barnaby Dinges? Now Don't tell us a FIB! AND what's on the docket?
Landowners, engineers, wind energy advocates, elected officials and others turned out for two public hearings in Fond du Lac Monday on proposed uniform wind siting regulations. Among the speakers was Michael Hutter of Michels Corporation, which has worked on wind farm projects in Calumet, Columbia, Dodge, and Fond du Lac counties. His company believes uniform regulations will “facilitate the responsible development and construction projects in Wisconsin.”
Barnaby Dinges, a member of the American Wind Energy Association, is concerned the rules may be too restrictive and counterproductive to rural development.
The rights of landowners were raised including use of eminent domain. “It is just plain immoral for you to allow this plundering and endangerment of Wisconsin for the greedy gain of a few.” These concerns were echoed by a Town of Wrightstown Supervisor, “Grown men will have tears in their eyes as they sense in effect the taking of their property without due process,” said Jesse Juedes.
The state’s Public Service Commission will use information from the hearings and other public comment before making a final determination on the regulations. The PSC will hold two public hearings in Tomah today and two more in Madison tomorrow.
WIND FARM SITING HEARINGS A BIG DRAW
SOURCE Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, www.wiscnews.com
June 29, 2010
By MEGAN SHERIDAN, Staff Reporter,
FOND DU LAC – Monday was the first day of three in Wisconsin that allowed for the public to make statements to the Public Service Commission regarding rules for the siting of wind farms throughout the state.
Fond du Lac City Hall hosted the first round of open hearings at 1 and 6 p.m. The siting rules pertain to the of turbines and will cover issues from resident’s health and safety to developer requirements. The rules are required through Act 40, created in October 2009.
“We are not here today because of some fantastic new technology that has been developed to produce cheap electricity,” said Jarret Treu of Morrison in Brown County. “We are not here today because of the free market. We are here today because of government fiat and misleading propaganda.”
Treu said wind farms, of which there are nine in the state producing a total of 449 megawatts of electricity on average, will never be able to support the entire state with electricity.
“Wind power can never be the backbone of any modern electrical grid or replace thermo generation plants in any large number,” Treu said. “Wind power fails in fulfilling the two main needs of a modern electrical system. It fails in providing both a continuous base load 24/7 stream of electricity and it can’t be ramped up or down to meet demand.”
Others criticized the lack of protection for Wisconsin citizens from wind farm corporations.
“We want you to stand up and protect the citizens of Wisconsin against big wind industry companies coming here and harming us instead of acting in such a way as to protect wind companies from Wisconsin citizens trying to protect themselves,” said Barbara Vanden Boogart, another Brown County resident.
Industry in general was a concern on many fronts for people speaking to the commission.
“We’re going to wipe out the dairy industry and hurt people,” said Jerome Hlinak, a town of Carlton resident. “Government has to screw up before they fix the problem.”
Hlinak raised the concern of stray voltage from the turbines, stating that such an issue can kill livestock and had taken a number of his cows.
The proposed rules in the siting of wind energy systems would require testing before and after completion of the turbines to determine if stray voltage is present due to the turbines.
Mark Hutter, Vice president of the Michaels Corp. based in Brownsville, said through his knowledge of constructing turbines that he supports a statewide siting rule and that built properly, turbines would not cause stray voltage.
“A properly constructed wind energy project will not produce stray voltage in a rural setting as is common around projects in Wisconsin. The more likely source of stray voltage is from the adjacent properties themselves,” Hutter said.
There were some that lauded the wind farm industry stating that it brings money and jobs into Wisconsin.
“Michaels has 4,000 employees many of whom live in Wisconsin or work across North America,” Hutter said. “We have constructed 3,350 megawatts of wind energy projects in 12 states. Michaels Corporation is in favor of energy independence. We believe this proposed rule will facilitate the responsible development and construction of wind energy projects in Wisconsin.”
Elizabeth Ebertz, a Fond du Lac county woman shared her personal experience of living within the Blue Sky Green Field wind farm. She said she heard a constant hum as if an airplane was constantly flying over the house causing her to lose sleep. Her son also spent a few nights at the home finding the same problem.
“It’s not just me, my whole family is affected,” Ebertz said. “I just want my life back and some sleep.”
The remaining public hearings will be held today at 1 and 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn 1017 E. McCoy Boulevard in Tomah and Wednesday at 1 and 6 p.m. at 610 N. Whitney Way in Madison.
The PSC is also taking written statements either at the public hearings or online at psc.wi.gov/apps/dockets/comment.aspx docket number 1-AC-231.
Both spoken and written statements hold the same amount of weight to the commission. Written comments will be accepted until noon on July 7. The proposed rules will then be finalized over the summer and sent to the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly where they will be discussed in two separate committees before they become rules.
To view the proposed rules, visit psc.wi.gov/apps/erf_share/view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=131628.
HEARING ON WIND SITING DRAWS A CROWD
SOURCE: Fond du Lac Reporter, www.fdlreporter.com
June 29, 2010
By Colleen Kottke,
They came from near and far, packing Legislative Chambers at the City County Government Center in Fond du Lac Monday to voice their opinions about proposed wind farm siting rules to be crafted by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
The proposed rules would ultimately result in uniform wind farm siting standards for local units of government, replacing a patchwork of different rules and moratoriums that have been imposed by counties and towns around the state in relation to small wind power projects.
The public hearings, scheduled around the state this week, were launched by the state Legislature after it passed a uniform siting law in October.
Using citizen input, the PSC will draft legislation touching on controversial issues such as maximum sound levels and setback requirements. Once passed, municipalities considering ordinances for wind farms would not be allowed to make their local ordinance more restrictive than the state model.
Act 40 requires the PSC to conduct the rulemaking with the advice of the Wind Siting Council, an advisory body. The PSC is expected to announce the new guidelines by July.
“Right now the proposed rules are just a draft; that’s why the public comments are very important. There are a lot of interested parties and we want to make sure this is a balanced process,” said Deborah Erwin, renewable energy policy analyst for the PSC.
Barnaby Dinges, owner of a public relations firm and member of the American Wind Energy Association, warned that more restrictive rules for siting wind farms would further harm the state’s quest to build its alternative energy portfolio.
“Wisconsin is already an energy slacker. We’re the only Midwest state that doesn’t currently have a major wind energy project under construction,” Dinges said. “New restrictions will make the state even less desirable for development of wind projects.”
He pointed out that the Wisconsin PSC already has a rigorous wind farm approval process in place for wind farms over 100 mega watts.
“New regulations will only make it more extremely unlikely that Wisconsin will come anywhere close to meeting its legislative goal of reaching 10 percent of renewable energy by 2015. It’s currently less than 5 percent,” Dinges said. “The unnecessary costs and uncertainties of proposed harsh new restrictions on turbine setbacks, sound levels and shadow flicker will create too much risk for developers, who will likely build elsewhere.”
In an industry that has felt the soft economy the most, jobs stemming from the construction of wind farms are welcomed by members of the union Travis Martzahl represents.
“Without the legislators setting up reasonable local regulations, it’s our fear that these construction jobs would be lost to our neighbors in Iowa and Minnesota. Keeping jobs here is vital to our membership of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, which represents thousands of workers,” Martzahl said.
Without the uniform rules in place, Martzahl fears that townships and counties would work to block development of wind farms.
“While building wind farms isn’t as good of work as building coal-fired plants, it’s still good paying work that supports families,” Martzahl said.
Michels Corporation of Brownsville has profited from the green energy boom, constructing more than 3,350 megawatts of wind energy projects in 12 states, including work on the Forward Wind Energy Center and the Blue Sky Green Field projects in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties.
“We believe the proposed rule will facilitate responsible construction of wind energy projects in Wisconsin. If the state is mandating that renewable energy be part of the energy mix…then it’s important to get this rule right,” said Mark Hutter, vice president at Michels Corporation.
Ledge Wind opponents
Many of those in attendance at the hearing in Fond du Lac hailed from the four townships in Brown County where citizen groups are rallying against Invenergy’s proposed 100-turbine Ledge Wind Energy Project. The project is spread across four townships, including Morrison, Wrightstown, Glenmore and Holland.
Wrightstown Supervisor Ronald Diny said town officials have worked together diligently to craft an ordinance to protect citizens.
“There is no effective process in (Act 40) to ensure proper installation and operation of wind turbines after the approval process. (Currently) when towns recognize potential problems, they can act and stop a bad project,” Diny said.
“On one hand, standard state rules will help, but they also set the stage for some bad projects since the (proposed) requirements to stop a bad project before construction are more restrictive and complicated,” Diny added.
Former dairy farmer Jerome Hlinak of Two Rivers said the PSC is slow to react when problems arise from utility projects. By wresting the control away from the local level, Hlinak said the PSC is taking away the municipalities’ rights to protect its citizens.
“There are problems at the national and state level, and even at the local level. But at least at the town level we can fix things quickly because it’s a neighbor. Here, nobody listens,” Hlinak said.
Want my life back
Barbara VandenBoogart and her husband searched for years to find a home in the rolling hills near Greenleaf in Brown County. Today, they spend their time and money speaking out against the Ledge Wind Energy Project.
“Everyone tells us that you’re (PSC) the one that will make a difference because you’re the ones that make the rules. We want you to stand up and protect the citizens of Wisconsin against big wind industry companies coming here and harming us, instead of acting in a way to protect those companies from us who are trying to protect ourselves,” VandenBoogart said.
While VandenBoogart can only imagine the impact a wind farm would have on her life, Fond du Lac County resident Elizabeth Ewerdt has lived with the reality of wind turbines towering over her home for the past few years. The noise from the turning blades from the We Energy turbines has robbed her of countless nights of sleep, she said.
“Can’t we hold these companies somewhat responsible for what they have taken from us?” she testified. “I don’t want any money. I just want my life back.”
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD:
WHO ARE YOU, BARNABY DINGES?
Now don't us tell a FIB!
Dinges, who calls Wisconsin an "Energy Slacker" in the previous article lives in Illinois and is running for mayor of Evanston, a city located just north of Chicago on Lake Michigan.
He runs a Public Relations firm called "The Dinges Gang" and has been hired by wind developer giant, Invenergy, to smooth the way for the Ledge wind project in Brown County.
From "THE DINGES GANG" website: "If your company, group or government agency is facing a challenging issue or project, call in The Dinges Gang."
Who else does the "Dinges Gang" represent?
- Abbott Laboratories
- Chicago Bears
- The Chicago Network
- Chicago Park District
- Draper and Kramer
- Illinois Department of Transportation
- Illinois Department of Public Aid
- Illinois Sports Facilities Authority
- Kraft Foods
- PLS Landscape Architects
Public Relations Team Projects for...
- DTE Energy
- Gateway 2000
- Ghirardelli Chocolate
- Illinois Casino Gaming Association
- Jim Beam
- Lernout & Hauspie Speech Recognition Products
- Trizec Hahn Properties
WHAT HAS THE DINGES GANG DONE FOR WISCONSIN?
From the DINGES GANG website:ADVOCACYCase Study: Forward Energy Windmill Farm
Generating Green Energy and Public Support
Invenergy developed plans to build Wisconsin’s largest wind farm, a 200-MW project within miles of the Horicon Marsh, a migratory destination for millions of birds and the area’s largest tourist attraction. The wind farm would provide enough power for 70,000 homes and help Wisconsin reach its goal of generating 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
In a classic case of NIMBY obstructionism, a local group used $50,000 in public funding to organize a group to oppose the project and encourage the Public Service Commission to vote against the project. The opposition group, Horicon Marsh System Advocates, created an opposition web site, and used its 300 members to write letters to regulators and media, and to attend public meetings to rail against the project. The opposition group claimed the wind farm would kill birds, destroy the area’s landscape, endanger local pilots, and harm local tourism.
[NOTE FROM THE NERD: The advocacy group he mentions here turned out to be right about wildlife impact. Initial post construction mortality studies show the Forward project turbine related bat deaths are among the highest in north america.
The national figure is about 4 bat kills per turbine per year. In the project advocated by the Dinges Gang the rate is 41.5 bat kills per turbine per year, or over ten times the national average.
In a little more than two years, this project along side the Horicon Marsh is estimated to have killed over 3,500 bats. The bird kill rates for this project are also much higher than the national average]
Partnering with local farmers who would host wind turbines on their land, The Dinges Gang educated the group to communicate with local officials and the media.
We placed “Wind Yes!” signs in front of their farmhouses. The group of supporters also included Wisconsin environmental groups and local labor and construction groups.
The Forward Energy team testified at public meetings and emailed letters of support to the Public Service Commission.
Supporters also wrote letters to and conducted interviews with media to underscore the broad benefits of the project (keeps farmers farming, provides $1-million annually in new local taxes for government, creates 250 construction jobs, etc.).
We also refuted each of the opposition’s arguments, showing them to be wild exaggerations and desperate attempts by a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) group to impede progress that will benefit the entire region.
On July 8, 2005, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission voted to support the $250-million project, which will erect 133 wind turbines on the Niagara Escarpment, within two miles of the Horicon Marsh.
- About me
My name is Barnaby Dinges. I am a teacher and issue advocate with more than 25 years of experience in politics, public relations, and community activism.
I own a small business in Evanston – The Dinges Gang – an issue advocacy consultancy.
Among my clients is Invenergy, a Chicago wind developer building wind farms throughout Central Illinois.
I am an adjunct professor of marketing at Columbia College in downtown Chicago.
CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO WATCH A VIDEO ABOUT THE INVENERGY WIND PROJECT ALONGSIDE THE HORICON MARSH
ELECTRIC DEBATE ABOUT WIND TURBINES BEFORE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
June 28 2010
FOND DU LAC – Dozens spoke their minds before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission on proposed rules on wind turbines in Fond du Lac.
Opinions on the controversial topic varied. Many don’t want wind turbines near their homes, saying their property values will go down and their health will decline.
“Someone who doesn’t sign a contract for those wind turbines shouldn’t have their lifestyle changed,” said Jarret Treu of Morrison.
The Public Service Commission created a draft of the rules last month. From now until July 7, it is asking for public comment on the proposed rules. While some side with the state creating laws, others think municipalities should be in charge of rules.
“The state has taken control over these large impact projects from the towns that our homes reside in and basically negating any unique characteristics of the communities,” said Steve Deslauriers of Holland.
People in favor of the growing wind energy say Wisconsin needs wind power to create jobs and expand renewable energy sources.
“If Wisconsin opts out of this industry, it will be conceding billions in economic benefits to neighboring Midwest states,” said Barnaby Dinges, a wind energy advocate.
The state wants ten percent of all energy produced in Wisconsin to be renewable by 2015. Many believe wind energy doesn’t actually save money. Contractors say people need to realize alternatives.
“Unless people are willing to make a conscious decision that they’re going to use a lot less power, we need that energy from somewhere,” said Mark Hutter, Vice President of Michels Coproration.
The Public Service Commission says it has received an outpouring of public comment on the issue.
“We will be redrafting these rules into a final version and there definitely will be changes so public comments are important,” said Deborah Erwin.
The Public Service Commission expects to finalize the rules by the end of the summer.
For more on the Public Service Commission and the wind turbine rules, click here .
HAVE YOU REACHED OUT AND TOUCHED YOUR PSC TODAY?
The PSC is asking for public comment on the recently approved draft siting rules. The deadline for comment is July 7th, 2010.
The setback recommended in this draft is 1250 feet from non-participating homes, 500 feet from property lines.
WHAT'S ON THE DOCKET?
Today we're posting recent selected documents from the wind siting council docket beginning with this post from the Town of Mishicot concerning wind siting council member Bill Rakocy.
There have been serious questions raised about the make-up of the council. Of the 15 members, at least eight of them have direct or indirect financial interest in the outcome of the rules.
From the TOWN OF MISHICOT
Office of the Town Clerk
618 Tisch Mills Road
Mishicot, WI 54228
e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTED TO THE DOCKET ON JUNE 28, 2010
To whom it may concern:
At the annual meeting of the Town of Mishicot, on April 13th, 2010, it was brought to the attention of the people in attendance that the appointment of Bill Rakocy of Emerging Energies to the State Wind Siting Council should be terminated due to conflict of interest.
Emerging Energies has land under contract for seven wind turbines in the Town of Mishicot that has been denied by the Manitowoc County Wind Ordinance. By Bill Rakocy's own admission he has stated that he would benefit from a lesser setback on the standards. The standards of the PSC should be created to address health and safety with the back of engineering standards and not personal profit of wind developers.
This letter is sent in response to a majority vote of those in attendance at said annual meeting.
The Mishicot Town Board
NOTE FROM THE PBWI RESEARCH NERD:
At WSC meetings, Bill Rakocy has been vocal about wanting as few restrictions on his wind development business as possible.
“We’re excited to develop as much wind [power] as we can in Wisconsin,” says partner Bill Rakocy."
“The permitting process is a rather long-term effort,” says Rakocy. “A conditional use permit is good for two years, typically, and it may take you all of that two years to get the balance of the project details put in place. And then there’s production tax credits available from the federal government, and if they expire in the midst of the project, all your work is for naught.”
SOURCE: "Wind Power's Wind Fall" Marketplace Magazine <http://www.marketplacemagazine.com/content/357_1.php>
WHAT ARE OTHER COUNCIL MEMBERS WITH FINANCIAL INTEREST IN THE OUTCOME OF THE SITING RULES SAYING?
From Wind Siting Council Member Tom Green, Wind Developer, Wind Capitol Group:
"But whether the wind farm goes in, [Tom Green] said, will depend on what the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin decides, as it sets parameters for wind farms - including setback from neighboring properties - that will apply throughout Wisconsin, and which cannot be made stricter by local authorities.
"You can't have a patchwork of rules throughout the state," Green said...
The rules, when they are adopted, will apply to wind farms such as the one proposed by Wind Capital Group - operations that generate less than 100 megawatts."
SOURCE: Portage Daily Register, January 28, 2010 <http://www.wiscnews.com/portagedailyregister/news/article_d4c01888-2c92-5efe-8e73-136809126a79.html>
From Wind Siting Council Member Andy Hesselbach, wind project developer for WE Energies:
"Hesselbach said he's concerned about proposals to move turbines farther from people's homes, given the need for Wisconsin to add more renewable power to comply with the state's renewable portfolio standard.
If "the sound or setback standards are modified in any material way, it is unlikely that this project will be developed, and moreover that any large-scale wind project will be built by any entity in the future in the state of Wisconsin," Hesselbach said. "The only option to utilize wind generation would be to develop projects in other states."
SOURCE "Winds of Change are Blowing" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 24th 2009 <http://www.jsonline.com/business/65911402.html>
From Council member Michael Vickerman, registered lobbyist and Executive director of RENEW Wisconsin
“You can’t stop a project in Wisconsin based on the appearance of these turbines,” [Vickerman] says, “so over the past seven years the opposition has refined its arguments and framed them in the realm of protecting public health and safety.
Here, as far as I’m concerned, is where they reveal their antiwind bias. They allege that they can’t sleep, they suffer from nausea—they express their discomfort in the most hysterical terms, and I think they basically work themselves into a very visceral hatred for wind.
I don’t even know if they have a philosophical objection to wind. They’re maybe congenitally unhappy people and they needed to project their fears and anxieties and resentments onto something new that comes into the neighborhood and disrupts things.”
SOURCE: The Chicago Reader: "There Will Be Wind" May 14, 2009 <http://www1.chicagoreader.com/features/stories/theseparts09/wisconsin-wind-turbines/>
From council member Jenny Heinzen, President of RENEW Wisconsin
"I have spent many hours on and underneath wind turbines of all sizes, and have never felt sick.
Nor have any of the systems’ owners/hosts that I’ve met.
What makes me sick is the profound hatred these near-sided [sic] selfish, wind opponents have towards change and progress."
Source: Letter from Heinzen to the Editor of Isthmus, Posted on RENEW Website September 29, 2009 <http://renewwisconsinblog.org/2009/09/29/isthmus-article-should-have-been-labeled-opinon/>
PUBLIC COMMENT FROM A RESIDENT OF THE CEDAR RIDGE WIND PROJECT IN FOND DU LAC COUNTY:
I live in the middle of Alliant Energy's Cedar Ridge wind farm in Fond Du Lac, WI. I have lived in this location for over 20 years. I feel the turbines were placed to close to mine and my neighbors houses.
I live in a valley and the turbines were placed all around me on the highest hills. So a 400' wind tower now became a 500' tower which seems like they are on top of me standing on my own lawn.
I emailed the town to complain and asked what ordinance the wind mills had to operate under and what was the setback requirements and noise levels they had to abide by. I was told there wasn't an ordinance and therefore no setbacks and noise restrictions.
We never were notified about any town meetings or where the turbines were to be located until after they were approved to be installed. As a result we are paying the price.
The noise and vibrations they make has taken the quiet country my house used to be located in and turned it into an industrial park setting with noise that is never ending.
The vibrations they create get you sick to your stomach and keep us awake at night.
There isn't any quiet get togethers outside on our deck and patio anymore. We have been forced to keep the windows closed and the air conditioner on which increases our electric bill and security.
At certain times of the year the flicker they create turns my family room and bed room into a disco. They have ruined our over the air television and Radio reception with the promise that they would fix the problem.
It has almost been 1 1/2 years now and my over the air antenna still gets no signal when they are turning.
Our property values have been decimated. I have been told that my property is probably unsellable now. We have to put up with all this without any mention of any compensation that I feel Alliant should owe us.
I have called Allient on numerous occasions to complain, but just get a run around. I was told that the wind turbines aren't going anywhere so I just better get used to it!
The turbines should not be placed near homes unless owners of the surrounding land all agree to their placement. They should respect the property line and have the set back from that and not the house.
I feel a 1 mile setback from any inhabited house would eliminate a lot of problems with noise and flicker and TV reception. Please contact me if you would like more comments.
I affirm that these comments are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
Town of Eden, Wisconsin
FROM A RESIDENT IN INVENERGY'S PROPOSED LEDGE WIND PROJECT IN BROWN COUNTY
Hello, I am writing about an issue I have with the siting of wind turbine #21.
It is currently drafted as being located about 1.1 times the height or about 500 feet from my property line.
I have been raising alternative livestock (Elk) for the past 11-12 years and I am very concerned for the health, safety and welfare of my animals. With them being in pens and unable to leave the area, there is a great concern how the turbine will affect them.
I have talked with people from the FonDuLac area that have had problems with their animals after the wind turbines in their area started up. One family had all of their Alpaca's abort their young within 1 month of the turbines starting up.
After hearing of different problems with animals and wind turbines, I called and spoke with Invenergy engineer Matt Thornton. I told him of my concerns and asked if they would consider moving the turbine further up the hill and away from my animals.
He said they would be unlikely to move the turbine because their are 3 more of them located over the hill and they didn't want the air flow to affect the other turbines.
Now mind you that those turbines are located 10 rotor diameters (over 2000 feet) upwind and that the wind blows from the Southwest on a very limited time frame.
I asked why they would put that ahead of my animals health and well being, but all he would say is that it is the most effecient design from a wind perspective.
I am a mechanical engineer by trade and have designed many air systems and of all the training I have had has taught me that 3 to 5 duct diameters is usually very adequate to get back to laminar air flow, but yet he feels they would like to have 10 diameters over the health and well fare of my animals.
This response does not sit well with me and I would like the PSC to please consider this case as it makes it's final wind siting rules.
Please consider making the set backs of a minimum of 2000 feet from any property lines, not 1250 feet from a residence. It is my property and my right to raise animals and that right shouldn't be taken from me.
I am commencing a campaign for mayor of Evanston and I will update residents on the progress of the campaign, both here and on my blog at www.dingesgang.com.