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3/31/11 Local elections tied to wind development in Brown County AND Big wind lawsuit in little St. Croix county AND Wind Whirl over cancelled projects: How much of it is spin? AND Wind blade factory falls through: carrot on end of stick could have been a mirage AND Hello Windmill, Bye Bye Birdie 

WIND FARMS REMAIN AN ISSUE IN GLENMORE, MORRISON

Source: Green Bay Press Gazette

March 31, 2011

By Doug Schneider

Wind farms remain a campaign issue in two southern Brown County towns, despite a company's recent decision to cancel plans for 100 wind turbines in Morrison, Glenmore and other nearby communities.

Invenergy LLC said it would not pursue permits for a wind farm in the area, but campaign signs related to wind energy continue to dot the landscape, and candidates say they still need to be prepared with future proposals that could affect residents' quality of life.

"We have to keep in mind that there are other projects like this out there, smaller developments," said Todd Christensen, who is seeking re-election as Morrison town board chairman, "and there could be more in the future."

Invenergy would have put 54 turbines in Morrison, four in Glenmore, and others in Wrightstown and Holland. Because some town officials expect there will be other developments proposed, towns are banding together to push for consistent regulations on issues related to windmills, and are asking state officials to consider their concerns. A handful of wind turbines were built as part of another project off Wisconsin 96 near the hamlet of Shirley.

But candidates also say there are issues beyond wind-energy regulation.

Cliff Hammond, who is challenging Christensen, said the next town board also will need to work to maintain a balanced budget as financial support from the state and county decline.

Kriss Schmidt, who is running for board chairperson in Glenmore, said board members will have to make sure basic services like snowplowing and road-patching are maintained.

Pat Kolarik, who also is running for Glenmore board chair, said the key for elected officials will be to focus on maintaining residents' quality of life whether the issue is wind energy or something else.

"There are going to be a number of challenges we have to address — budget, services, appropriate setbacks for any structure," she said. "The goal for me would be to work with residents on appropriate solutions."

ENERGY SOLUTION OR LEGAL TROUBLE?

SOURCE: Hudson Star Observer

March 31 2011

"The controversial energy project in Forest has come under fire and may be stopped by a federal lawsuit which was filed by a citizens’ group in February."

A legal battle in northeastern St. Croix County highlights the difficult issues of wind-generated power. Talk to anyone and they will, in general terms, talk about wind power as a good, efficient and cheap energy source for the times — be it today or tomorrow.

Try finding a location to construct wind generators and suddenly you’ve got yourself a first-class controversy, complete with arguments among neighbors, recalls and lawsuits.

Such is the case in St. Croix County in the town of Forest.

The controversial energy project in Forest has come under fire and may be stopped by a federal lawsuit which was filed by a citizens’ group in February. That suit was also supported by action of a new town board that was elected through a successful recall election. The former board had approved the proposed wind energy project last summer.

A citizens’ lawsuit was filed in February. In March, the new town of Forest board voted to rescind a wind energy development agreement and other approvals that had been granted to a wind developer. The project, being proposed by a private developer named Emerging Energies, is in jeopardy.

The project in Forest called for 39 wind towers. Each tower stands about 500 feet tall.

Many landowners in the town had signed leases with the wind firm, but were prohibited from discussing the project. When the rest of the town’s residents got “wind” of the deals, the uprising began.

Now there are battles over setbacks, noise, quality of life, health, property value, safety and more. Emerging Energies, LLC, has also threat-ened the new town board with legal action.

A similar scenario developed in the eastern part of the state when a Chicago wind energy developer, Invenergy LLC, dropped its plan to build a large wind farm near Green Bay.

Opponents in the Green Bay area are expressing the same concerns and claim they will continue to work to prevent the “irresponsible development of industrial wind projects.”

State energy regulators are now trying to come up with a plan to help support wind projects. Regulators may be asked to go back to the drawing board to develop statewide rules governing wind power projects, under a bill to be considered this week.

The Legislature’s joint committee for review of administrative rules voted earlier this month to temporarily block a wind farm site rule developed by the state Public Service Commission.

Supporters of wind energy development say legal problems will stall development, leading to a loss of jobs tied to wind turbine construction as well as revenue for host property owners and local governments. There seems to be plenty of controversy over, among other things, setbacks for wind towers.

A property rights bill introduced by Gov. Scott Walker in January would restrict wind towers from being placed less than 1,800 feet from a property line. That bill had the apparent support of wind farm opponents and the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

In its most recent wind farm decision, the PSC ruled that 1,250-foot setbacks be required for We Energies’ Glacier Hills Wind Park, now under construction in Columbia County.

The bottom line is, when wind towers begin popping up in either populated areas, or rural countryside, there is likely to be plenty of opposition. A group of wind towers doesn’t do much for the scenic value of any topography.

Despite all the virtues of wind power, developing a power source to a degree where it would have a significant impact could be difficult when facing “not in my backyard” neighborhoods.

MIDWEST WIND SUSPENDS DEVELOPMENT WORK IN STATE

"Wind industry representatives said the PSC rule was restrictive because it set specific decibel limits for turbine noise and shadow flicker restrictions as well as setbacks."

Source: JSOnline.com

March 31, 2011

By Thomas Content

Midwest Wind Energy is suspending development of two wind farms in Wisconsin, the Illinois company said Wednesday.

The company developed the Butler Ridge wind farm in Dodge County and the Cedar Ridge project in Fond du Lac County, projects now owned and operated by other companies.

Midwest Wind said it was actively working on a 98-megawatt wind farm in Calumet County and another project for which a location had not yet been announced.

Midwest Wind cited development opportunities in other states at a time when Wisconsin policymakers are moving to restrict wind farm development.

"Most states are clearly open for renewable energy development and the economic development dollars and jobs that come with it,” said Stefan Noe, company president. “So long as there are states rolling out the welcome mat it doesn't make sense to devote significant dollars to a state that is creating unreasonable roadblocks for wind development."

The action came one week after Invenergy of Chicago canceled plans to develop a large wind farm near Green Bay, and one day after a legislative committee voted to introduce a bill sending wind siting rules back to the state Public Service Commission for more work.

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker have said the PSC rule allowed turbines to be built too close to nearby homes. Wind industry representatives said the PSC rule was restrictive because it set specific decibel limits for turbine noise and shadow flicker restrictions as well as setbacks.

A bill that passed in the Legislature two years ago called on the PSC to set up a uniform standard for wind projects across the state, to replace a patchwork of local rules and moratoriums that were in place with regard to wind projects.

Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at the environmental group Clean Wisconsin, said the new chair of the PSC, Phil Montgomery, was a co-sponsor and supporter of the bill that called on the PSC to set statewide standards. He said he hoped the agency would move quickly to develop a workable set of rules.

When the bill was introduced in 2009, Montgomery – then a state lawmaker from Brown County and ranking Republican on the Assembly energy and utilities committee - released a statement in support of a uniform state standard.

“Wind power is job-creating power,” Montgomery said in April 2009. “A fair and uniform state standard for siting wind developments will create an environment of investment in our state while moving us closer to our green energy goals.”

´╗┐WIND TURBINE PLANT ON HOLD

Source: Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune

March 31, 2011

By Nathaniel Shuda

"I think we had to give them every opportunity to succeed," council member Lee Albrecht said. "You have this carrot dangling out there that there are 600 jobs on the horizon; I think you have to do whatever you can to have that carrot come to you."

Wisconsin Rapids is ready to buy back land it sold to a local company that two years ago announced plans to build a wind-turbine blade manufacturing plant on the property.

Energy Composites Corp. faces a Friday deadline to either reach an agreement with Wisconsin Rapids or sell the nearly 94 acres of land back to the city at the original purchasing price, Mayor Mary Jo Carson said.

Carson said the sale doesn't necessarily mean the project is dead, but it won't happen right now.

"Obviously, ECC doesn't want to hold us up in reference to that land, which we thank them for," she said. "We appreciate their interest in their hometown."

Carson said City Attorney Sue Schill has been working with the company's attorney to reach a buy-back agreement.

On March 31, 2009, the company announced plans to build a 350,000-square-foot plant in the Rapids East Commerce Center that would create at least 400 local jobs. Since then, those plans expanded to 535,000 square feet and more than 600 positions.

To facilitate the project, the city later sold the Wisconsin Rapids-based company 93.7 acres of land in the Rapids East Commerce Center for $500 an acre -- a 90 percent discount from the typical asking price -- plus a $1,000 option fee, for a total price of $47,850.

Under the pending agreement, the city would buy back the land at the same price for which it sold it, Carson said.

"I'm glad to see it being sold back to the city at the original price," City Council member Marion Hokamp said. "The sooner they do it, the better it's going to be. Maybe we're going to get somebody else interested (in the property)."

As part of the original development agreement, the city would have paid $1.5 million for infrastructure costs, including extending city streets and expanding railroad access to the property, and $6,000 for each full-time job the company created on or before Dec. 31, 2012, up to $3.8 million.

At this point, Wisconsin Rapids has not invested any money in the project, city Finance Director Tim Desorcy said.

A decline in bond market conditions led company officials to put the project on hold while they searched for investors. Those efforts have been unsuccessful.

Hokamp, who has publicly criticized Energy Composites for a lack of action, said the city should have bought the property back sooner. She remained skeptical of the project throughout the process.

"Way back when they started, I never thought it was going to be done," she said. "They knew they weren't going to have anything out there a long time ago."

Other council members do not regret giving the company so long to bring the plan to fruition.

"I think we had to give them every opportunity to succeed," council member Lee Albrecht said. "You have this carrot dangling out there that there are 600 jobs on the horizon; I think you have to do whatever you can to have that carrot come to you."

WIND FARMS THREATEN MANY BIRD SPECIES WITH EXTINCTION

SOURCE Save The Eagles Foundation

March 29, 2011
by Mark Duchamp

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