12/23/11 UPDATED: What's it like living near 500 foot turbines? Ask the residents of Glenmore, Wisconsin AND National release of documentary "Windfall" announced AND Once turbines are up, wind company disputes taxes owed.
Video courtesy of The Forest Voice-- visit their website by clicking HERE
"At least eight families living in the Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore just south of Green Bay, are reporting health problems and quality of life issues since the Shirley Wind project went online in December of 2010. Six families have come forward, five of them testify on the video, and at this time two of them have vacated their homes. STAND UP to protect people, livestock, pets, and wildlife against negligent and irresponsible placement of industrial wind turbines."
-The Forest Voice
WIND FARM IDEA ZAPPED BACK TO LIFE
By Kevin Murphy,
Via New Richmond News, www.newrichmond-news.com
December 22, 2011
MADISON – The clock began ticking Friday on state regulators to review an application to construct a 102.5 mega-watt wind energy farm in the towns of Forest and Cylon.
By statute, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission has 30 days to determine if the application submitted by Highland Wind Farm LCC is complete, and if so, then six months to approve or deny it. If necessary, a circuit court can grant the PSC a six-month extension.
The HWF project has been a controversy in the Town of Forest since the town board approved a wind development agreement with the wind farm developer, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, in 2008. That agreement was modified in 2010 but proved to be unpopular with residents who removed the board in a recall election in February.
Rick Steinberger, elected in February, said that within a month the new board rescinded previously adopted wind development agreements and in August enacted a wind energy system licensing ordinance that Steinberger said better “protects the town than existing state regulations.”
“Realistically, we’re not protected by the state guidelines,” which is why the town adopted an ordinance with more restrictions than state regulations on turbine setbacks, noise levels and shadow flicker,” he said.
In response, HWF increased the size of the project from 97 to 102.5 megawatts, making it subject to state and not town regulation. How much involvement the town will have in the state’s approval process remains to be seen, said Steinberger.
“I’m just one vote on the board…and I haven’t read through the application yet and I don’t have a comment on it,” Steinberger said Monday.
Town Chairman Jamie Junker also said he would withhold any comment on the wind farm application and what response the town should take until he has reviewed it.
William Rakocy, a founding member of Emerging Energies, now EEW Services LCC, said the project was increased in size in response to an unresponsive town board.
“We would have been pleased to work with the town; we tried to in the past. The previous town board was reasonable to work with, but the new town board has not responded to any attempts to communicate with them so we’re going ahead,” Rakocy said.
Rakocy said the $250 million wind farm represents Wisconsin’s best option for renewable energy and should be approved.
“Every other energy source has a fuel requirement to bring it the state; there’s a fuel cost associated with bringing in coal, uranium for nuclear power and even natural gas. We don’t have any of those energy sources in Wisconsin but we do have wind,” he said.
Rakocy, of Hubertus, Wis., also said the project will need approval from several other state and federal agencies including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Unlike public utilities, EEW Services LCC won’t have to prove there is a demand for the electricity produced by the project. Rakocy could sell the project once it’s approved but he disputed he was taking a route through the regulatory process that avoids having to prove demand.
“This doesn’t avoid anything. There’s been a clearly defined process in the state of Wisconsin for several years. There are questions to be answered by utilities and questions to be answered by independent power producers. We’ve answered the questions the application has required,” he said.
Rakocy said he hopes the economy recovers in the two to three years it takes to approve and construct the wind farm so there is more electrical demand. If the project is approved he will be look for an investor to fund and build it.
If the project goes according to plan, construction could start in early 2013 and be completed in about a year, Rakocy said.
The PSC retains siting jurisdiction over the HWF project. Although siting regulations approved by the PSC earlier this year have been suspended by the Legislature, the PSC will at least need to consider if the application is consistent with the suspended rules, according to statement the PSC issued Monday.
The PSC welcomes public comment on the project once it determines the application complete. The application has been posted to the PSC’s website: psc.wi.gov. The HWF docket number: 2535-CE-100.
Watch the trailer from the award-winning documentary "Windfall" which includes video from Wisconsin wind projects. "Windfall" will be released nationally in February of 2012
"Wind power... it's sustainable ... it burns no fossil fuels...it produces no air pollution. What's more, it cuts down dependency on foreign oil.
That's what the people of Meredith, NY first thought when a wind developer looked to supplement the rural farm town's failing economy with a farm of their own -- that of 40 industrial wind turbines. But when a group of townspeople discover the impacts that a 400-foot high windmill could bring to their community, Meredith's residents become deeply divided as they fight over the future of their community. With wind development in the United States growing annually at 39 percent, Windfall is an eye-opener for anyone concerned about the environment and the future of renewable energy."
DISPUTE STILL STANDS AS WIND CAPITAL PAYS UP
by Andrew Gaug, St. Joseph News-Press,
December 22, 2011
What appeared to be an early Christmas present has turned into an unholy mess, as Wind Capital Group dropped off its property tax payment to DeKalb County on Thursday.
Receiving two checks totaling $1,967,572, delivered to the DeKalb County Courthouse by Stephen Bode, Wind Capital Group operations manager, county officials aren’t sure if they can distribute any of it.
Though the attitudes remain heated between the county and wind farm company, which runs the Lost Creek Wind Farm, over a property tax assessment, County Assessor Ruth Ross was originally pleased to see the company pay part of what she said it owes.
While awaiting judgment from the Missouri State Tax Commission concerning property tax assessment, more than $1 million of the paid taxes will be placed in an escrow account. Not disputing the remaining $951,021.62, the amount Wind Capital Group stated it feels is the correct total it should pay, it was expected to go immediately to DeKalb taxing entities such as schools and fire protection.
“I think this is a wonderful thing that Wind Capital is doing. They’re not disputing it all, and the taxing entities of Missouri will benefit greatly from that money … being dispersed before the first of the year,” she said.
That may not be the case, County Treasurer Jody Pearl stated, as she considered Ms. Ross’ information conflicting with what she was told — that all of the money, including the undisputed amount, would go into the escrow account.
“According to my attorney, (it will) not (be distributed) without an order from the State Tax Commission instructing me how to distribute it,” she said.
Citing Missouri State Statute 139.031, concerning disbursement of tax money during a dispute, Ms. Ross said the undisputed money should be ready to be sent out. In the meantime, she will be contacting her attorney to see what can be done.
Though Ms. Ross was smiling when talking about the schools, fire and police receiving money, she made it clear that issues with the company are anything but dashed.
In a release, Wind Capital stated its pride in paying what it felt was a fair share of the property tax and doing so in a timely manner. “Wind Capital Group believes very strongly in paying our fair share of property taxes in DeKalb County and has now done so,” Mr. Bode said. “For the Lost Creek Project, we have now paid more in property taxes than has ever been paid on a wind energy project in the state of Missouri.”
Considering the company’s statement a misnomer, Ms. Ross said the reason they’re paying more is because they have three times the wind turbines as any other wind farm in the state, and they’re still asking to pay less.
“I always take exception to the fact that they’re paying a lot more taxes to DeKalb County than they are to other counties,” she said. “That’s like you buying a new car and me buying three new cars and I’m expecting my taxes to be the same as yours.”
The company is disputing Ms. Ross’ assessed property tax value of about $297,000 per wind turbine, an amount she came to when using a formula created by former Wind Capital Group CEO Tom Carnahan. Assessors in several other counties in Northwest Missouri with wind farms have told the News-Press they used the same formula as Holt County, without conflict.
Protesting the proposed tax assessment, Wind Capital stated Ms. Ross’ formula is overblown and should be about $142,000. The case awaits a decision from the tax commission.
“We’re still a long ways from being settled, but I want to commend Wind Capital for letting us at least distribute that amount,” Ms. Ross said.
“It will be a huge benefit. Not as much as we would like, but it’s a step.”