8/4/10 DOUBLE FEATURE Wind developer to local government: Law is on my side. In fact, I'm writing the law AND The noise heard 'round the world: report finds negative health impacts from wind turbines
PERMITS EXTENDED ON WIND FARM
August 3, 2010
By Lyn Jerde
Another Columbia County wind farm - this one in the county's southern tier - is still up in the air.
The Columbia County Board's planning and zoning committee Tuesday extended, by one year, conditional use permits to two landowners, which would allow for another year of testing wind speeds, using two 197-foot test towers set up by the Madison-based Wind Capital Group. The towers have been in place for two years.
One of the towers is in the town of Arlington, on land owned by Sherri and Lloyd Manthe. The other is in the town of Leeds, where the landowner hosting it is Alan Kaltenberg, a town supervisor.
Planning and Zoning Director John Bluemke said the extension of the conditional use permit to Aug. 1, 2011, as approved by the committee, is contingent on approval from the Arlington and Leeds town boards.
Thomas Green, senior manager for project development for Wind Capital Group, said results from the test towers (which don't have bladed turbines, as electricity-generating windmills do) have shown that southern Columbia County could have wind that is strong enough, and frequent enough, to make the area a viable location for a wind farm.
But discussion is still in the early stages, he said.
"Thus far, we feel pretty good about the wind capacity in the area," he said. "We know we have to have the data to take further steps."
Another year of testing the wind would provide additional information while the Wind Capital Group assesses other factors that might determine whether their wind farm might be in Columbia County's future.
In northeast Columbia County, construction has begun on the access roads and headquarters for the Glacier Hills Energy Park, being built by We Energies, in the towns of Scott and Randolph. The Glacier Hills turbines are scheduled to be built in the summer of 2011 - up to 90 of them, each about 400 feet from the base to the top of the highest blade tip.
If Wind Capital Group builds a wind farm, Green said, it would sell any power generated to an electric utility.
In speaking to the planning and zoning committee Tuesday, Green noted that there currently are state and federal initiatives to encourage the construction of facilities that generate electricity from renewable resources such as wind.
"For the foreseeable future," added committee member Fred Teitgen.
Green said he doesn't see the incentives going away any time soon, partly because Wisconsin has a law requiring utilities to generate a percentage of their electricity from renewable resources.
Committee member Harlan Baumgartner said he's not convinced that wind will be or should be a major factor in future energy generation.
"There might be other ways of producing energy that are more feasible than wind," he said.
Although officials of the towns of Leeds and Arlington must sign off on the extension of the test towers' conditional use permit, neither the towns nor the county can, legally, make their own regulations regarding the siting of wind turbines.
It's not that the town of Arlington hasn't tried. In the spring of 2009, the town board adopted an ordinance requiring that all wind turbines must be at least 2,640 feet, or half a mile, from buildings.
However, a new state law has directed the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, which regulates the state's utilities, to set parameters for wind turbine siting that would be applicable throughout the state - meaning that no county, town, village or city could make rules that are more restrictive.
Green said the PSC is in the process of drafting those rules, and they should be in place soon.
"We can't make a decision," he said, "until there are standards in place."
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD:
One thing this article does not mention is that Tom Green himself is writing the 'standards' that will allow him to site this project.
When the state legislature voted to strip local government its power to regulate wind projects, Tom Green of Wind Capitol Group was appointed to the 15 member Wind Siting Council which has just finished writing siting guidelines for the entire state.
Like Tom Green, the majority of the council has a direct or indirect financial interest in creating rules that favor wind development over protection of local residents and wildlife.
What's the "Dean Report" and why does it matter to wind project residents? Here's what windaction.org has to say about it
The Dean Report
Acciona Energy's Waubra wind farm, located in western Victoria, Australia is the largest operating wind facility in the southern hemisphere.
Excerpt from the Dean Report:
Further research has shown that the acoustic energy from wind
turbines is capable of resonating houses, effectively turning them into
three-dimensional loud speakers in which the affected residents are now
expected to live.
The phenomenon of natural resonance combines to produce a cocktail of
annoying sounds which not only disturb the peace and tranquility
once-enjoyed by the residents, but also stimulate a number of disturbing
physiological effects which manifest in the physical symptoms described
In the opinion of the author, backed up by residents' surveys and scientific
measurements and analysis of the noise of turbine can be a significant
detractor for those living within 10 kilometres of them.
More research is urgently needed to determine the extent of the nuisance
effects and what setbacks are required to minimise the negative effects on
The long term medical implications are considerable and need to be
researched before any further applications for wind farms are consented.
Failure to do this, in the opinion of the author, will significantly effect
the utilization of this technology and will produce long-term consequences
that will be to the detriment of the whole of society.
 The Waubra wind energy facility is located near Ballarat, in western
Victoria, Australia. It is the largest operating wind facility in the
southern hemisphere consisting of 128-1.5 megawatt turbines for a total
installed capacity of 192 megawatts. The turbines were first turned on in
February 2009; the facility was fully operational by July 2009.
 Noel Dean and his family moved away from their farm in the spring of
2009 when the headaches and other symptoms worsened