6/30/10 Final Wind Siting Hearing in Madison AND Ramming it through: Is the PSC even listening? AND Brown County Towns asks that more time and care be taken in creating guidelines. Will the PSC's reply be "LOL!" ?
WIND SITING HEARING NOTICE
WEDNESDAY June 30, 2010, beginning at 1:00 p.m and 6:00 p.m.
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
First Floor, Amnicon Falls Room
610 North Whitney Way, Madison, Wisconsin
Audio and video of the meeting will be broadcast from the PSC Website beginning at 1:00.
CLICK HERE to visit the PSC website, click on the button on the left that says "Live Broadcast". Sometimes the meetings don't begin right on time. The broadcasts begin when the meetings do so keep checking back if you don't hear anything at the appointed start time.
WIND TURBINE DEBATE SPINS TOWARD SEPTEMBER 1 DEADLINE
SOURCE: The Daily Reporter, dailyreporter.com
June 29 2010
By Paul Snyder,
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is sticking to a firm Sept. 1 deadline to propose wind turbine placement rules despite calls from local governments to wait.
“We had a very clear mandate to get work done quickly,” PSC Chairman Eric Callisto said Tuesday.
“Expediency is important in order to have uniformity and ground rules in place for future wind development.”
Callisto and other PSC staff members this week are traveling throughout the state to hold public hearings on wind turbine placement draft rules based on recommendations from the state’s Wind Siting Council. The council’s goal is to recommend rules for turbine placement on wind farms that generate less than 100 megawatts of electricity. Wind farms that generate more than 100 megawatts are subject to PSC approval.
The council first met in March, and Callisto said then he expected recommendations by July. The PSC will then use those recommendations to make rules by Sept. 1 for review and approval by state lawmakers.
Still, local governments argue the process is moving too fast.
Representatives from the towns of Morrison, Wrightstown and Glenmore in Brown County last week requested the Wind Siting Council first consider a March report by the World Health Organization relating to health problems caused by wind turbines.
Glen Schwalbach, who submitted the request on behalf of the towns, said further review is more important than a year or two delay in setting the turbine placement rules.
“The fact is: We have newer information now that says there are more health implications than some people have believed relating to noise effects,” said Schwalbach, the town supervisor in Rockland, which neighbors the three towns requesting the review. “It’s not just a case of whining or people imagining things.”
Doug Zweizig, the siting council’s co-chairman, said council members do not know why they have to meet the Sept. 1 deadline. He said he thinks itís a mistake to rush a set of recommendations to the PSC.
Zweizig, a Plan Commission member in the town of Union, said his town took about a year and a half to develop a wind farm ordinance.
“It’s clear that they’re trying to pass something as quickly as possible,” he said. “I think the council could have had a much better process, but it went almost immediately to looking at positions of the various members.”
The majority of the 15-member council, Zweizig said, favors wind development, and members who have experience living on wind farms are not being heard.
Callisto said he wants consensus recommendations but will take the majority’s vote if that’s the best he can get.
“It would hold more weight if it was consensus, but I realize how difficult this is,” he said. “It was not unanimous legislation, either.”
The reason for the Sept. 1 deadline, Callisto said, is so Senate and Assembly committees can review and approve the rules before the legislative session ends. Because the turbine placement recommendations would represent rule changes, they would need to be submitted by Sept. 1 during an election year and only would require approval from legislative committees rather than the full Legislature, Callisto said.
He said he wants the same group of lawmakers that formed the council to review the rule change proposals.
If new wind farm studies come along, Callisto said, and groups such as the Brown County towns want more review, there is room for change.
“I think they’re going to be flexible to accommodate new studies,” he said. “Rules get modified all the time. Nothing’s written in stone.”
TO: Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
Docket No. 1-AC-231 Draft Chapter 128--Wind Energy Systems
Request by the Towns of Morrison, Wrightstown and Glenmore
Brown County, Wisconsin
June 23, 2010
Issue: Request to delay issuing the PSCW wind siting standards until epidemiological studies of health complaints from Wisconsin`s current wind farms are thoroughly completed.
The towns of Morrison, Wrightstown, and Glenmore in Brown County are very concerned about the mounting evidence that there are serious negative impacts on human and animal health caused by wind turbines. It appears it is not only reasonable to delay the issuance of wind siting standards but it would be irresponsible to not do so in light of new studies and ongoing complaints of residents in and near Wisconsin`s existing wind farms.
In general, scientifically and statistically relevant studies have been limited. But, a very important report was published March 2010 by the World Health Organization (WHO) entitled "Night Noise Guidelines for Europe" (available at euro.who.int/en/what-we-publish/abstracts/night-noise-guidelines-for-europe).
The report is based on a six-year evaluation of scientific evidence by thirty-five scientists from medical and acoustical disciplines. WHO indicated that now governments have justifications to regulate noise exposure at night. WHO sets the limit for annual average exposure to not exceed 40 decibels (dB) outside of a residence.
WHO stated, "Recent research clearly links exposure to night noise with harm to health. Sleep disturbance and annoyance are the first effects of night noise and can lead to mental disorders. Just like air pollution and toxic chemicals, noise is an environmental hazard to health". WHO stated that they hope their new report will prompt governments to invest effort and money in protecting health from this growing hazard.
Our towns ask the PSCW to acquire the WHO report and evaluate its application to setting appropriate sound levels for wind turbines.
The PSCW`s draft rules do not address low frequency noise levels. It is not known whether the WHO report addresses this issue but other studies have described the likely effects. This is another area where epidemiological studies are needed before wind turbine setbacks can be reasonably proposed.
Besides sleep disturbance, there are complaints of other physiological problems. It is not acceptable to ignore or minimize the significance of these impacts as just quirks of human imagination.
Also, there is evidence that existing wind farms in Wisconsin are negatively affecting farm animals. Whether it is noise or some other physical phenomena, studies and testing should be done before setting siting standards.
At a public meeting of the Brown County Health Department and the Brown County Human Services Committee, reputable medical and health experts stressed the importance of epidemiological studies to determine the true nature of health impacts of wind turbines.
The State Board of Health pointed out that the lack of funding is a hurdle. But a conviction to do the right thing should prompt the PSCW to make a case to pursue the money issue with state legislators as well as our U.S. senators and representatives. Certainly, our towns would help in this endeavor. That said, it is even more appropriate for the wind developers and their associations to offer funding for independent studies since such studies should reduce future litigation. Electric utilities should have a stake in this effort as well. This is an opportunity to involve the University of Wisconsin research capabilities in both human health and animal health.
It appears that Act 40 does not set a deadline for completing the siting rules. This week a state senator who was one of the leaders in passing the wind siting law agreed that studies should be done to be sure the rules are adequate. If one or two years were used to study the existing wind farms while delaying any new installations, the developers would still have time to help utilities meet their 15% RPS by 2015. Again, if needed, our towns would help in getting the support of legislators.
Our towns implore the PSCW and the Wind Siting Council to not ignore the evidence of potentially serious health impacts and to not set standards until they have done the obvious and reasonable step of studying the health impacts of existing wind turbine installations in Wisconsin. Professional ethics demands no less. We believe our request aligns with the PSCW`s responsibility to protect the citizens of Wisconsin.
Submitted for the towns by Glen R. Schwalbach, P.E.