6/8/10 Wednesday's wind siting council meeting and what's on the docket? What's the difference between what the wind developer tells you and what the easement you signed says? It's not a good surprise. AND a Rock County prairie conservationist weighs in on the draft siting rules.
WIND SITING COUNCIL MEETING TOMORROW
Wednesday, June 9, 2010, at starting at 9AM
Public Service Commission Building
610 North Whitney Way
Audio or video of the meeting will be broadcast from the PSC Website beginning at 9:00. 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.
WHAT'S ON THE AGENDA?
1) Welcome/Review of today’s agenda
2) Review and adoption of meeting minutes of June 2, 2010
3) Presentations: Property Values
a. Kurt Kielisch, Appraisal Group One
b. Eric Corroy, Zoning Administrator, Red River Township
c. Joe Jerabek, Zoning Administrator & Assessor, Lincoln Township (invited)
d. Representative, Action Appraisers (invited)
4) Background information on questions raised by Council regarding the draft rules
a. Statutory interpretation
c. Commission rulemaking authority
d. Notice requirements
e. Emergency services
f. Vestas manual reference
h. Stray voltage
i. Complaint resolution
j. Commission noise measurement protocol
5) Discuss Council’s recommendations on topics covered by the draft rules
6) Next steps/Discussion of next meeting’s time, place and agenda
This meeting is open to the public.
If you have any questions or need special accommodations, please contact Deborah
Erwin at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin by telephone at (608) 266-3905 or
via e-mail at email@example.com.
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?
This from a resident of Brown County
I do completely agree with the realtors on the counsel that the developers need to be licensed and there needs to be a "truth in wind development" requirement.
We agreed to run a buried cable, not a turbine. It was never disclosed that by signing a cable easement we were also allowing a turbine to be placed right up to our property line, and that a turbine could be placed 500 feet from our home.
We would have never agreed to this if it was truthfully disclosed.
-- Curt Hilgenberg, Greenleaf Wisconsin
Dear PSC Commissioners and Wind Siting Counsel members;
I`d like to share my experience with a wind developer in hopes of helping future land owners.
My wife and I looked into small wind turbines for several years, but could never cost justify buying one. The payback period was always longer that the life expectancy of the turbines. When I read about a proposed wind project in my area, I called the developer to find out about hosting a turbine on our land. I though, this is great, I can do my part for renewable energy.
When we learned about the size of the turbines, we realized that there was no where on our 35 acres where I could host a turbine and not impact my neighbors, so we decided against it. We also were worried about how a 400 foot turbine would negatively affect property values and the ability to sell our home if needed.
After over a year of hearing almost nothing about the project we got a call about running a buried collector cable through our land. We again decided against it. After several more phone calls, we reluctantly agreed to sign a buried cable easement.
We were given the pitch that they are going to be built with or without our participation so we may as well benefit financially from it. We were promised that the cable would be run along the lot line where it would have minimal impact.
Again we did this to help the project and to do our part for renewable energy.
After another year hearing nothing from the developer (we did attend the only public information session hosted by the developer but were told everything is still being designed yet, they have don`t have any details) we learned what the plan was for our property.
We found out about it on the PSC application, the developer never discussed anything with us. The plan was to run a high voltage cable through our front yard between our house and barn which are about 100 feet apart. This high voltage line was going to run right through our electric supply line, our well water line and our septic system.
It was going to cross 3 fence lines, take a right turn in the middle of our horse pasture and then cross another fence line. Hardly the low impact we were promised.
The really baffling part of this is that there was an alternate path between the 2 turbines they are trying to connect that was almost a straight line on vacant land. This path was not through our property, but was through other properties already under easement. Instead the developer chose a path that was about twice as long and had much more negative impact.
Once you sign an easement agreement, the developer holds all the cards.
They can legally place turbines, collector lines, and access roads anywhere on the property under easement.
I would like to see the process changed to require landowner approval after the land usage is determined. The contract agreement should be a separate event from the easement filing with the county.
If the developer`s plan is materially different from what was discussed and promised, the easement could not be filed and the contract would be voided. This would ensure that the developer would keep their promises and keep the land owner involved in any changes, or the land owner could opt out.
In our case, the developer did not do what was promised. They have since verbally said they would move the line, but we have seen no evidence of it.
We have become so disgusted at the misstatements, omissions, and lack of communication that we no longer want to be part of the project. We returned our un-cashed easement check (we were waiting to cash it until we saw that the plan for our land was acceptable and as discussed) to the developer and asked to be released from the contract and easement.
They simply said no.
We hired an attorney to work out a release. They again said no and reminded us of that our contract had a confidentiality clause.
I`m not implying that all wind developers will look you in the eye and lie to you. I`m sure that some work with the landowners for the benefit of both parties. These reputable developers should not have an issue with a 2 step easement because they are treating the land owner as a partner.
I do completely agree with the realtors on the counsel that the developers need to be licensed and there needs to be a "truth in wind development" requirement. We agreed to run a buried cable, not a turbine.
It was never disclosed that by signing a cable easement we were also allowing a turbine to be placed right up to our property line, and that a turbine could be placed 500 feet from our home. We would have never agreed to this if it was truthfully disclosed. This is plain and simply WRONG!
A developer has an unfair advantage. They work with these contracts on a regular basis. The land owner, probably only once in a lifetime.
The process is broken. It needs to be fixed and regulated.
This from Kevin Kawula, a prairie conservationist from Rock County, Wisconsin
To the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Commission Staff, and Wind Siting Council Members,
I ask that no CPCN be granted by the PSCW for any Industrial Wind Facility, or Industrial Wind Project, until health and safety standards for people and wildlife can be established by the Wind Siting Council, and a more responsible, ethical, and equitable joint development model can be created for a state natural resource, the wind.
The Commission`s draft safety setback of 1,250 feet, from a non-participating residence, and a nighttime noise level of 45 Dba, are insufficient to protect Wisconsin citizens` health. These setbacks put rural Wisconsin citizens at risk from unsafe industrial wind development.
Wind developers are in Wisconsin to do business, and make money. They are offering the minimum in cooperation, compassion, and compensation, and are expecting the greatest of windfalls. The electric utilities by law are guaranteed a profit.
The question is how much are the utilities allowed to profit over a community's health and safety from a "free" resource. A "greater benefit" to society, the state, is often the justification. The wind developers hope it is so. It is the PSCW`s responsibility to prove the case for such a takings from the commons.
I, as a tax-paying citizen, am asking the PSCW, as an appointed government body, to tell wind developers and the utilities, that Wisconsin and its citizens deserve better. Better safety setbacks, better operating parameters, and better cost and profit sharing for the exploitation of a state natural resource.
It is alarming that the PSCW would consider and approve a CPCN for WEPCO`s Glacier Hills with the same inadequate safety setbacks, before it has established the rules for siting wind facilities in Wisconsin through the Wind Siting Council, as required by the recently passed Wind Siting Reform Law.
There are known and admitted problems with industrial scale wind turbines. Nighttime noise and sleep deprivation are the prime concerns for Wisconsin`s rural residents.
The need for nighttime industrial wind generation profits, over a citizens right to healthful sleep, needs to be addressed by the PSCW prior to granting of any CPCN any industrial wind facility.
Bat deaths and wildlife displacement also need to be addressed responsibly.
Wind developers and utilities are trying to side-step the very real health concerns (Dr. McFadden`s `partial overview` presentation to the Wind Siting Council fits in here!), community, and environmental impacts of industrial wind facilities by dazzling the Wind Siting Council, Commission, and citizenry with RPS claims, shared revenue numbers, and promised jobs.
Wind developers and utilities can assure the PSCW of an industrial wind facility`s RPS qualifications when it resolves to close down an appropriate coal burning facility.
The PSCW can determine the value of an industrial wind facility either through the CPCN permit (x amount MW coal facility), the installed nameplate capacity of an industrial wind facility (1-200 MW, as proposed, of coal generation), or actual industrial wind facility generation.
(The Governor`s Task Force on Global Warming is hoping that Wisconsin wind facilities will achieve 29% of their nameplate capacity, but numbers in Wisconsin wind facilities are currently lower at 25% of nameplate capacity) This would help the PSCW achieve true RPS goals of reduced fossil fuel CO2 emissions.
If the inclusion of industrial wind nameplate capacity is allowed by the PSCW factoring towards achieving Wisconsin`s utilities RPS goals without tying that industrial wind nameplate to the equivalent reduction of coal generation, then the RPS is hollow and without value.
All understand the intermittency of industrial wind generation. All understand the responsibilities of base load generation towards the dependability of a transmission/distribution electrical grid.
If industrial wind facilities do not reduce the need for nighttime base load generation, due to their intermittency or lack of need for additional generation, then are industrial wind facilities reducing CO2 emissions?
The answer is no.
If the economic benefits of nighttime generation are necessary to the wind industry, despite the lack of emission reductions, then why is the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) so intent on building additional transmission lines up to Manitoba Hydro reservoirs north of Winnipeg Canada?
According to Roy Thilly (WPPI), the Co-Chairperson of The Governor`s Task Force on Global Warming, transmission lines built up to Manitoba Hydro reservoirs would allow WPS to store the nighttime wind generation it currently has to sell at a loss to get it on the grid at night.
Manitoba Hydro would charge for this service, but it would prevent WPS from having to sell nighttime wind generation at a loss.
Lets look at some of the revenue numbers surrounding the WEPCO, Glacier Hills Wind Facility.
WEPCO plans to construct 90 1.8MW wind turbines for an installed capacity of 162MW of renewable energy, Columbia County would receive $378,000 per year, the Town of Scott $108,000, and the Town of Randolph $180,000, for a total of $666,000 per year, or $4,111 per MW of installed nameplate capacity.
Not bad? What is the source of these shared revenues? WEPCO income, profits, or a rate tax mechanism?
How much profit does WEPCO hope to make? A bunch.
In July 2009, the U.S. Treasury Department began to accept applications for renewable energy projects cash grants of up to 30% in lieu of Investment Tax Credits (ITCs).
Regardless of the price tag WEPCO is certain to write off the cost of the project against its earnings over the next 5 to 6 years. So the cost, $335 million to $413 million, is shouldered by the taxpayers.
Up to 30% up front, the remainder through annual depreciation written off against WEPCO Glacier Hill earnings, and any depreciation balance transferable to other WEPCO earnings.
WEPCO potential earnings at Glacier Hills can be calculated as follows: Each 1.8MW wind turbine, generating at 29% efficiency, and selling the generation at 7 cents a kilowatt hour (kwh), would earn WEPCO $365,400 per turbine per year.
Green tags/Green credits, sold at 2 cents a kwh, would generate an additional $104,400 per turbine per year. There is also the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), at 2 cents per kwh that would also be worth $104,400 per turbine per year in additional write offs.
The 90 turbines of Glacier Hills together could earn $42,282,000 per year, with a PTC worth $9,396,000.
So to recap WEPCO through Glacier Hills could see $42,282,000 in gross income per year, while Columbia County, and the Towns of Randolph and Scott could see $666,000 per year. Fair? Just? Equitable?
How much will the State of Wisconsin generate in tax revenues from Glacier Hills?
Another case study of industrial wind facility shared revenues can be found with MG&E and Wave Wind LLC. Wave Wind LLC was recently in the papers seeking 8 cents per kwh for it`s proposed industrial wind project`s generation, but MG&E was only offering 2.9 cents per kwh, due to having met it`s RPS requirements.
If Wave Wind LLC were to get 8 cents per kwh along with green credits at 2 cents per kwh, that means a 1.5 MW wind turbine operating at 29% efficiency would generate $435,000, $375,000 at 25% efficiency, while the county would receive $4,000 and township $2,000.
We as a state or nation can subsidize any industry we choose. For an industry to try to hold a community, state, or country hostage over the promise of `JOBS` is ridiculous in this day and age. We see it all the time however, as community`s vie for the worse business deal to lure a temporary industry. Choose any green industry and the `Jobs` argument fades quickly.
STATE NATURAL RESOURCE ALLOCATION REQUIREMENT FOR CPCN
Since we, Wisconsin citizens, are paying for these industrial wind projects, and that profits made from our shared natural resources must be distributed equitably, wind project developers need to be more open and generous with its profit sharing potential of our shared natural resources.
The PSCW needs to provide improved oversight so that the industrial wind industry`s business drive does not jeopardize any Wisconsin citizens` quality of life.
Wind proponents like to stress that the wind is "free". Utilities, like WEPCO, MG&E, etc. stand to profit exorbitantly from a "free" Wisconsin natural resource ($42,282,000 with Glacier Hills at 29% efficiency, $36,450,000 at 25% efficiency vs. $666,000 for Columbia County and the towns of Randolph and Scott regardless of generation efficiency) if our appointed government bodies, like the PSCW, do not allocate the natural resource, and its benefits, more equitably.
The primary PSCW CPCN reallocation requirement, for any industrial scale wind project, is the nighttime curtailment of industrial scale wind turbine operations, when the demand for electrical generation is low and covered by base load operations, and human health and safety impacts are high.
Nighttime curtailment will also eliminate unnecessary bat, and nocturnal migrating bird mortalities.
Industrial scale wind developers, in the Glacier Hills case WEPCO, often make payments in lieu of taxes, to communities and governments. Nighttime curtailment, as a CPCN required reallocation of a state natural resource, is an improvement on this model, and would benefit the hosting communities by removing an unnecessary health impact at no expense to WEPCO.
If the wind is truly free then the PSCW should not hold Wisconsin communities, homes, and citizens accountable for profit forecasts made to WEPCO shareholders for a natural resource they do not own.
This is much more equitable than a response to non-hosting residents found in a partial review of the PSCW`s EIS on Glacier Hills states in, Property Values, 5.10.2, p.85, "Another method that could mitigate potential impacts to non-host residences is a property value protection plan.
This type of a plan provides property owners with certain assurance that they will receive "fair market value" for their eligible properties upon sale. Since 1997, this type of agreement has been implemented between the Onyx Glacier Ridge Landfill and the town of Williamstown, city of Mayville, and Dodge County. Fair market value is determined by a state-licensed appraiser. The plan identifies the properties covered by the agreement, the party responsible for paying for the property appraisals, and the method for compensating affected property owners."
The fact that the PSCW uses landfill mitigation as a way of addressing wind project impacts, should raise concerns with every rural land owner, and state politician.
Wind Turbine Projects = Sanitary Landfills ...as far as home and property values are concerned.
The PSCW can correct these errors. Wisconsin deserves responsible policy makers who care about all of Wisconsin`s citizens, not just those who are paid to shape public policy, and create short sighted legislation.
Kevin A. Kawula,