Entries in Lauren Azar PSC (4)
9/7/10 What's Wrong With this Picture: National and state government throws out life lines to wind industry but refuses safety net for wind farm residents whose lives have been ruined. PSC to Wisconsin residents: You got a problem with it? Too bad. Call a lawyer
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD:
The majority of the Wisconsin Wind Siting Council did all they could to come up with rules that make things easier for the wind industry and harder for local government and wind project residents seeking protection and remedy.
This was hardly surprising considering the majority of the council members had a direct or indirect financial interest in doing so.
The Public Service Commission recently voted to approve rules that do the same.
Only one PSC commissioner, Lauren Azar, expressed any concern for those who will be impacted by the rules.
She repeatedly asked for provisions to protect Wisconsin residents and insure remedy for problems, specifically requesting a provision that would act as a 'safety net' for those who suffer verifiable turbine related impacts to their health.
Callisto flatly refused to consider this, indicating aggrieved residents could bring a private lawsuit against the wind company.
Azar pointed out that most rural Wisconsin residents could not afford the approximately $200,000 in non-recoverable legal fees required to bring a lawsuit against such large companies and the PSC had an opportunity to build in protections.
Callisto and Meyer were unmoved.
In the end Commissioner Azar voted with Callisto and Meyer, much to the dismay of those whose lives, futures and communities will be forever changed by rules that err on the side of corporate interests instead of caution.
Click on the image below to see Governor Doyle's cameo in a video posted by the American Wind Energy Association on YouTube
Will wind energy bring promised jobs to Wisconsin? If so, how many?
Better Plan posted this a few days ago, and we'd like to post it again as a reminder---
In Wisconsin, Facts About ‘Green Job’ Creation Elusive as the Wind
SOURCE MacIver News Service | September 1, 2010
By Bill Osmulski
MacIver News Service Investigative Reporter
[Madison, Wisc...] Although they are touted and promoted by policy makers and opinion leaders across the state, accurately defining and keeping track of ‘green jobs’ has proven nearly impossible in Wisconsin.
Take, for example, ‘green jobs’ associated with the wind industry.
Wisc. Governor JimDoyle (D)
“Clean energy technology and high-end manufacturing are Wisconsin’s future,” Governor Jim Doyle said in his final State of the State address. “We have more than 300 companies and thousands of jobs in the wind industry.”
That statistic is impossible to verify.
The State of Wisconsin does not track those companies nor the jobs within the industry.
When contacted, the Office of Energy Independence (an agency created by Governor Doyle in 2007) directed MacIver News to Wisconsin Wind Works, a self-described “consortium of manufacturers representing the wind manufacturing supply chain within Wisconsin.”
The advocacy group maintains an online wind energy-related supply chain database, although a routine examination of the data proved just how unreliable the figures are.
When the online, searchable database was utilized earlier this summer, it listed 340 companies in Wisconsin connected to the wind industry, a fact which, without additional investigation would appear to be in line with the Governor’s statement.
However, further examination showed many of those companies were not currently serving the wind industry and were only listed because they someday could serve the wind industry.
For example, the database listed 38 manufacturers, but only 24 of them have anything to actually do with the wind energy sector presently.
Of those 24 Wisconsin manufacturers, only eight were categorized as primary suppliers.
Another four companies were listed as both primary and secondary suppliers. A MacIver News Service reporter contacted all eight primary suppliers and the four companies listed as primary/secondary suppliers in our initial query and what we found further eroded the credibility of Governor Doyle’s claims.
When contacted, the companies listed as both primary and secondary suppliers all described themselves merely as secondary suppliers. That means they produce products that are not exclusive to the wind energy.
For example, Bushman Equipment manufactures lifts that move heavy pieces of equipment, which, among many other uses, can be used to handle wind turbines.
Wisconsin Wind Works’ database is not only generous with the number of companies within their supply chain it associates as being primary suppliers, there are issues with the actual job numbers listed for each company as well.
Many of the figures are either inflated, the jobs are not located in Wisconsin, or they cannot be tied to wind energy.
For example, Rexnord Industries was one of the eight Wisconsin manufacturers listed in our query as directly serving the wind energy industry. The database shows the company has 6,000 employees.
Yet a Rexnord official told the MacIver News Service that the company only has 1,500 employees in Wisconsin, and only five of those have jobs which are directly tied to the wind industry.
Wisconsin Wind Works’ database says Orchid International has 600 employees, but a company spokesperson told MacIver it only has 150.
Amsoil Inc. in Superior has 236 employees listed in the Wisconsin Wind Works database, but a company representative told the MacIver News Service that only 6 of them work on wind energy-related products.
In all, at the time of our search, the database claimed 7,632 jobs among the eight manufacturers that were current primary suppliers to the wind industry. Yet, the MacIver News Service was only able to identify 31 jobs at those companies which were specifically tied to wind energy related products.
Manufacturers told MacIver News that other employees might work on wind-related products occasionally, but it does not represent the bulk of their workload.
Another 1,077 workers are listed among the secondary suppliers and we did not investigate that claim.
VAL-FAB, one of the companies listed as both a primary and secondary supplier, explained to MacIver News that it initially had high hopes for the wind energy industry that never materialized. The company specializes in fabrication for the energy sector.
William Capelle, Director of Business Development at VAL-FAB, said “At first we thought we might be able to manufacture the actual towers, but it turns out 90 percent of those are imported from Spain.”
Since the MacIver News Service first examined the Wisconsin Wind Works database, the number of companies listed has increased to 360.
A reporter attempted to contact the organization for comment about the veracity of their data, but Wisconsin wind Works, which solicits members by selling itself as the
“preferred partner of wind energy professionals,” did not respond.
They are, however, holding a Wind Energy Symposium in Milwaukee on October 13th.
Meanwhile the Office of Energy Independence continues to pursue the Doyle Administration’s green energy policies.
As Doyle said during his final State of the State address, “anyone who says there aren’t jobs in the clean energy economy had better open their eyes.”
There is no doubt that some jobs in the wind industry exist in Wisconsin. The accurate number of these ‘green jobs’ is proving to be, at best, elusive
Representatives of Doyle’s office did not respond to repeated request for comments regarding the information contained within this article.
WIND POWER WANES WITH FADING FEDERAL INCENTIVES
SOURCE: NPR, www.npr.org
September 6, 2010
by Jeff Brady,
Wind power, one of the largest segments of the renewable energy market, will experience a sharp decline in growth this year.
The slowdown comes as a surprise because the stimulus bill, which President Obama signed into law 18 months ago, included a big boost for renewable forms of electricity in the form of $43 billion for energy projects.
Last year, 10,000 megawatts of wind power were brought online in the United States — that’s enough to power nearly 300,000 homes. In 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, that number will be 57 percent lower. It will be the first time in six years that the growth rate of the wind industry will actually decline.
There are several reasons for this, but probably the biggest factor has to do with government incentives. The wind industry typically rises and falls with the passing and expiration of federal tax credits.
Depending On Federal Subsidies
Wind projects are expensive to build, so developers have depended on federal subsidies that encourage investment in renewable energy.
When the credit markets dried up in 2008, so did the money for new projects. The White House and Congress threw the industry a lifeline with the stimulus package in the form of investment tax credits.
Right now, if you build a wind project, the government will, essentially, cut you a check for 30 percent of the cost. But that incentive is running out of rope and scheduled to expire at the end of 2010. That deadline prompted a lot of activity last year.
“Everybody moved their projects forward into 2009 to take advantage of it,” says George Sterzinger, executive director of the Renewable Energy Policy Project. But now, he says, some developers are waiting to see if the credit will be extended.
And with natural gas relatively cheap now, some utilities are choosing to build gas power plants rather than wind farms.
In response, the wind industry says it needs a federal mandate — a law that would tell those utilities they have to buy more renewable forms of energy.
“We’re kind of stuck without that long-term policy in place that sends the signals to the utilities that they need to purchase wind as part of a diversified portfolio,” says Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.
A Renewable Energy Mandate
Obama has said he supports a renewable energy mandate. Getting it passed this fall is one of the wind industry’s priorities as lawmakers return to Capitol Hill.
The wind industry is still growing this year, just not as fast as last year, or the year before that.
“We are well on our way to doubling U.S. renewable generation capacity in the U.S., which is what the president had committed to,” says Matt Rogers, a senior adviser for Recovery Act implementation at the Department of Energy.
The question now is whether that pace can be maintained. Rogers says it would help to have more certainty when it comes to tax policy and other incentives. That would give investors and wind energy developers the information they need to make long-term plans instead of waiting around for the next government lifeline.
SECOND NEWS FEATURE
SOURCE: The Oklahoman, newsok.com
September 5 2010
BY CHRIS CASTEEL,
The Obama administration’s emphasis on clean energy and the fight in Congress over energy legislation is creating some tension among certain sectors, including the natural gas and wind power industries.
The American Wind Energy Association has been fighting to counter a recent column in The Wall Street Journal that challenged a key selling point of wind — that it reduces carbon emissions. The industry also is defending its federal subsidies, arguing that they are actually less than those received by oil and gas companies.
“We’ve been under attack by the fossil fuel industry for the last six months,” Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, told reporters in July.
Bode is a former Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner, but she’s also a former head of the Washington-based trade group for independent oil and gas producers and was a highly visible advocate for the natural gas industry when she worked for the American Clean Skies Foundation.
Now, her organization is claiming that an oil and gas company trade group and think tanks financed in part with energy money are spreading misinformation to discredit wind as a renewable energy source.
The Western Energy Alliance, formerly the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, released a report earlier this year that concluded renewable electricity mandates had actually caused pollution increases in Texas and Colorado because coal and natural gas plants operated less efficiently to accommodate the variability in wind sources.
The study was cited in The Wall Street Journal column, written by Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and that column was then cited by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.
Bryce questioned whether wind energy’s contribution to reducing emissions would ever be significant and argued that the emphasis should be on natural gas.
Opposed to mandates
The wind energy association countered last week with Department of Energy figures showing carbon emissions had dropped steadily in Texas and Colorado as wind power was added to the mix. And it has cited studies projecting that emissions would drop by as much as 25 percent if wind generated 20 percent of electric power in the country.
It’s not just a fight between wind versus natural gas in Washington and beyond; there are lobbying battles between coal and natural gas and nuclear versus renewable sources.
And the stakes could be high.
Though pre-election fighting could further stall passage of energy legislation in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said last week that he still hopes to pass a bill before lawmakers adjourn for the year.
And Reid said he hopes to include a national renewable energy standard — a requirement for utilities to use a certain amount of renewable energy.
The wind energy association has been pushing hard for a renewable standard, arguing that it would spur manufacturing jobs while reducing emissions.
But lawmakers from states in the southeastern United States, where wind isn’t as plentiful or as easy to harness, have been strongly opposed to mandates for renewable energy.
Others watch, wait
Trade groups for oil and gas companies, including the Independent Petroleum Association of America, have not taken a public position on a renewable energy standard.
Jeff Eshelman, a spokesman for the group, said the organization has always cited the importance of all domestic energy sources.
“However, we do take issue with proposals that call for taxing American oil and natural gas companies to subsidize nonconventional energy resources,” he said.
The oil and gas industry has been pushing hard since President Barack Obama took office against his proposals to change tax rules the industry considers vital.
Democratic members of Congress also have proposed higher fees and penalties for offshore drilling.
Some lawmakers have promoted a broader mandate, called the clean energy standard, which would allow for more than just renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy. And groups representing natural gas companies have argued that natural gas should be included in such a standard.
Bode recently suggested that the industry’s future is dependent on a renewable energy standard, and she said she was in the fight “to the bitter end.”
PSC COMMISSIONER'S OPENING REMARKS ON WIND RULES, AUGUST 19, 2010, open public meeting in Madison at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
COMMISSIONER MEYER: Just on how we proceed with the wind siting question, given that we're going to take it up on Monday-- I guess I could do one of two things as we go on- what I'm prepared to do today was to sort of walk through each section and talk about changes that I think we should consider-- but think I'd like an opportunity sometime, whether it be today or Monday to maybe address more generally things like shadow flicker and setbacks--- I'm just wondering if you think that's more appropriate today or that's more appropriate Monday.
CHAIRMAN CALLISTO: No, I—what we're talking about here is the wind siting rules- it's the next agenda item so in terms of process -- before we make any opening statements, if any-- this is clearly going to be a multiple day process so I'm comfortable with whatever you're comfortable with-- we can-- we're clearly going to have some discussion today about principles, we may have some discussion about the structure of the rule and I also I do have some red lines that I think are relatively minor or are so important that I think we should start thinking about them today in order to meet our very aggressive time line.
So I was inclined to start walking through the rule and as major issues arise we can talk about them. If you have a different structure you are more comfortable I can do it that way as well.
MEYER I think-- I think I'm fine with that -- I think my thinking would be to just kind of walk through, see where you're at, see where you're at, you can see where I'm at see where I'm at--- but maybe the more generally speaking to -- you know--shadow flicker, noise or setbacks or things like that I think would want to understand better where I think the rule is going---
CALLISTO Sure. Sure.
[Speaking over each other-- inaudible]
MEYER: ---- a work in progress
CALLISTO: --- at least one more meeting, I would suspect.
COMMISSIONER AZAR Where I am, I've got-- I certainly have sort of discussions of the issues—but I have –again- put my lawyer hat on-- and literally have gone sentence by sentence and done a redline, I’m working with staff on where I think we can improve the rule. So I’m not sure how you guys want to take those line by lines because that will take a long time and-
CALLISTO: It will and that’s not—I don’t want to say it’s not workable – I mean—at-- at some level we to have to give the concepts to Deb – we’re going to have the [?] check off on the rule—not check off but after we get all these concepts to staff—which is going to evolve in our own---certainly in our own private space we’ll have walked through each of the lines and then we’re going to come back on that last day and see what’s there but ideally in this next meeting or two we can give them enough very clear guidance so that when we have that final presentation to us and we meet out here then it’s going to be nothing more than at that point, hopefully, fly-specking the rule.
AZAR: So Mr. Chairman are you recommending that I just give my word changes to staff and not raise them here?
CALLISTO If its--- I think we should discuss issues that are large here. If you have suggestions to staff I don’t think that violates any of our standing rules or obligations on minor word tweaks. That’s fine. I don’t know how you feel, Chairman Meyer.
MEYER Fine with that. My goal today would be to walk out of the room understanding the big changes that either of you want and you understand sort of the bigger changes that I would want, if there are smaller grammar kinds of things [inaudible] I’m not sure today’s the day for that.
CALLISTO Yeah, let’s see how far we get on that. It’s been a slow slog as I’ve gone through—and I’m sure you have so it may take us-- we may not get through the entire wind rule today.
"There will be individuals who live close to exisiting and future wind farms who will disagree with these standards we set. As I do in all siting decisions, I feel for these people, but I believe we will treat them fairly and balance their concerns with the state’s real and important drive to advance clean energy projects."
-PSC Chairman Eric Callisto
CALLISTO: [Reading] Opening statement. We are taking up the wind siting rules as I’ve noted in anticipation of approval and moving them to the legislature for review.
This has already been a wild ride and the commission hasn’t even weighed in. I want to thank all of those who helped to get us to this spot. First and foremost the wind siting council led by its Chair Dan Ebert and Vice Chair Doug Zweizig.
The Council has met over 20 times during its short existence. It has debated all the relevant topics and from my perspective has provided a very valuable recommendation to the commission.
My thanks as well to the hundreds of commentors who have shared their views with us.
This rule making is unlike any I’ve every been involved with and the critical eye brought to its promulgation by citizens across the state and the country will make it a better product.
Finally, my thanks to commission staff who have worked tirelessly in support of meeting the aggressive timeline I laid out for them. They have earned some rest but given how our discussion is going to go, they are not going to get it for a couple of days.
CALLISTO: That the final Wind Council report was not a concensus document in every regard is not surprising. Nor has it diminished the value of their product. Were these issues so easy we would not have needed the passage of Act 40, a critically important mandate that took two legislative sessions and many modifications to pass.
Were these issues so susceptible to easy resolution we would not see them recurring in every instance when wind siting is discussed regardless of the forum.
They have been front and center and highly contested in decisions the commissioners made in every wind farm CPCN or CA.
And were these issues so easy we would not have now before us a substantial amount of credible evidence that supports balance as we move forward.
That balanced approach is often the hallmark of our best work here at the commission, and it surely will play a central role as we promulgate this rule.
My balancing of the real issues at stake will be guided appropriately by the enabling statute. Act 40 laid out a clear mandate to this commission. It requires us to set statewide standards for these smaller projects to insure statewide uniformity and to insure that clean, valuable wind projects continue to be built in Wisconsin.
The act puts a difficult but very important obligation on this commission. We are to create standards that by legislative design limit local government’s discretion. That is no easy pill for Wisconsin communities to swallow and I don’t take the responsibility lightly.
But the legislature has determined, and I completely agree, this is an issue of statewide importance.
In setting these standards we are not going to go as far as the wind advocates want, and we certainly will go farther than those who want to dramatically limit wind farm siting.
There will be individuals who live close to exisiting and future wind farms who will disagree with these standards we set. As I do in all siting decisions, I feel for these people, but I believe we will treat them fairly and balance their concerns with the state’s real and important drive to advance clean energy projects.
" Our goal is to promulgate uniform wind siting rules that will allow the wind development community to successfully and responsibly propose and develop wind projects in Wisconsin to take advantage of favorable wind regimes."
PSC Commissioner Mark Meyer
MEYER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[Reading] First and foremost thank you. There were so many of you that came together to get this work done in a timely way. The number of participants, council, particularly I want to thank the council, Dan Ebert and Doug Zweizig, chair and respectively for insuring meetings ran smoothly and the meetings were curteous and productive in the face of strong opposing positions.
I want to thank the members, Dave Gilles, Tom Green, Jennifer Heinzen, Andy Hesselbach, George Krause Jr. Lloyd Lueschow, Jevon McFadden, Tom Meyer, Bill Rakocy, Dwight Sattler, Ryan Schryver, Michael Vickerman and Larry Wunsch.
I want to make a special comment about Mr. Wunsch’s participation in the process, he’s a landowner who currently lives near a wind energy system, the promulgation of these rules will have no effect on his property but his input has been formative regarding the process and effects of siting decisions on individual properties and landowners.
Together the council represents over 900 hours of volunteer time that has be spent insuring these rules represent the interests of the stake-holders and Wisconsin citizens.
While I may not agree with all the recommendations of the council, I’m grateful and well informed by the work they have put into this effort.
I’d also like to applaud staff’s work on these rules. They’ve been tireless and committed to this process in a way that demonstrates the professionalism and dedication that this staff [inaudible] around the country on many important issues. Their work, commitment and professionalism is what allowed us and the council to reach concensus on many issues and develop a draft that captures the concerns and input of those stake holders. Deb Erwin, Dan Sage, Joyce Dingman [inaudible] and John [inaudible] Thank you.
While the chair has already gone through the processing path these rules have taken I want to highlight that it was a very open and inclusive process that started in 2009 with Wisconsin act 40 in September of 2009, statement of scope the following November, followed by public hearings in Fond du Lac, Tomah and Madison,a written comment period that ended July 7th 2010, which I should note we got over 1800 comments, which I have to say is more than I’ve ever seen in an individual case here at the commission in my six years.
Following that there were council meetings, 21 in all, that started in March of 2010 and ended on August 16th, 2010.
Going to the legislature, if you look at the newly created statutes it’s clear the legislature intended this to be an on going discussion.
The wind siting council is now a long standing body with an obligation to inform the commission on the promulgation of this rule as well as on an ongoing basis as we gather more information and learn more about wind siting and its effects on the people and communities [in] which they are sited.
Now not up for debate is whether there are sufficient wind resources in Wisconsin, whether wind should be considered as part of the states generation portfolio and whether the state or municipalities should create the rules for wind siting. These questions have been asked and answered.
Our goal is to promulgate uniform wind siting rules that will allow the wind development community to successfully and responsibly propose and develop wind projects in Wisconsin to take advantage of favorable wind regimes.
Our goal is to also identify how and when political subdivisions can create its own rules with respect to the siting of wind energy systems.
Wisconsin is heavily coal dependent and allowing the possibility of wind development is essential in diversifying the energy resources in our state.
We also have to balance the interests of wind developers with those of landowners. Both participating and non participating landowners. In particular, Act  requires us to specify the restrictions a political subdivision may impose on the installation or use of wind energy system, provide setbacks for reasonable protection from any health effects from noise or shadow flicker and to address decommissioning.
In addition the commission may address issues of visual appearance, lighting, electrical connections, the power grid, setback distances, maximum audible sound levels, shadow flicker and the proper means of measuring noise, interference with radio, telephone, television, as well as other matters.
Based on the comments received, the recommendations of the council and staff input, we’ll be addressing all the issues specifically as mandatory in discretionary issues outlined in Act 40 as well as notice compliance, stray voltage testing, compliance with electrical standards, emergency procedures, complaint process, political subdivision procedure, and commission procedure.
In addressing the Act 40 requirements, comments, council process of recommendations all propose what rule language thus meets all those issues.
Let me say at the outset this is meant to be and has been an open process and I’m open to discussion with my colleagues on this issues on how each of you think the language of the rule will best serve the interest we’re tasked with balancing.
Finally I want to acknowledge in setting these rules and making individual decisions in individual cases we ask people to make sacrifices for the good of the whole.
I’m comforted by the ongoing nature of this process as well as the commissions authority under proposed rule 128.02 to deviate from the rules in exceptional and unusual circumstances.
CALLISTO: Commissioner Azar?
"While reviewing the proposal rule, I was keenly aware of the distinctions between preventing the potential harm and mitigating that harm.
My recommendations seek to prevent the harm for the vast majority of the general public."
-PSC Commissioner Lauren Azar
AZAR: This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made during my tenure as commissioner. While some issues that need to be resolved are easy, others are not.
Before I begin I’d like to thank the members of the wind siting council who worked hard to develop the recommendations before us, and the commission staff, they’ve done a stellar job with drafting this rule and staffing the council.
Let me say from the start, based on the record of this case, I believe the health of a small portion of the population could be adversely affected by wind turbines, primarily through noise and vibration.
Frankly there is a strong suggestion that these adverse effects could be serious for a small percentage of folks.
Unfortunately we don’t know precisely why these people are affected, we don’t know what percentage of the population is affected and we don’t have a correlation between the levels between the emissions and the adverse affects.
In short, there are a lot of unknowns. I will be recommending that we ask the wind siting council to investigate and make recommendations on several issues. Though our information is not currently complete, I believe there is a good reason to pass a rule now, recognizing it will be a work in progress.
My goal today is two fold; protect the public while simultaneously removing barriers for wind development. While some may think this balance is impossible, I do not.
Indeed the more information that we as a commission obtain, the greater likelihood that we can meet both ends of that goal. Accordingly, as we gather more information, I believe the commission can and should refine these rules.
Make no mistake. As wind energy is developed in Wisconsin, it will affect the residents living around the turbines. This commission cannot eliminate all of those effects. All of us bear burdens for the good of our society, but some bear burdens greater than others.
It’s sobering to have to determine the amount of burden that may be placed on a community. Based on our dialog today it may seem that we make these decisions with ease. Let me assure you that these are heart wrenching decisions. We make these decisions recognizing the sacrifices that will follow.
Indeed, I have heard from people living in existing wind energy developments who have—who state they have been adversely affected and we hope that these rules will address the issues that they have raised in future developments.
While reviewing the proposal rule, I was keenly aware of the distinctions between preventing the potential harm and mitigating that harm.
My recommendations seek to prevent the harm for the vast majority of the general public.
First, these rules will establish standards that must be complied with or there will be consequences. Additionally my hope is we develop rules that recognize that some people are particularly sensitive to the emissions from wind turbines. In these cases, the developer must mitigate that harm, or at least I believe so.
Should these mitigation techniques fail in these rare circumstances I believe we should pass rules that protect these particularly sensitive residents.
If after mitigation the wind energy system is causing significant and verifiable adverse health [inaudible] I will be proposing that the developer be required to purchase the protected party’s home at market value.
In conclusion I want to address two critiques that have been made about the process of this rule making.
First, there are allegations that the council members that were appointed do not fit the profile mandated by the legislature. Simply, I disagree with that allegation.
Second, several parties have asked the commission to delay promulgating these rules so that further information can be developed. I found there is a dearth of information on some of these issues which makes policy making on those issues difficult.
However, according to one of the briefs, there is around 600 megawatts of wind waiting to be developed and development is halted until this rule is completed.
While I like to make decisions based on complete information, it is unclear when we will receive that information, hence, I think we need to develop the rules that include safeguards addressing some of the unknowns while simultaneously allowing responsible wind projects to be developed.
I believe we can develop rules that accomplish both.
ABOUT THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONERS
The PSC is composed of three full-time Commissioners who decide the cases brought to the PSC for changes in utility operations, rates and for construction projects after a complete and thorough review of all the records compiled in the case, including public comments.
Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate for staggered, six-year terms.
One of these Commissioners is appointed chairperson by the Governor for a two-year term. The Commissioners Office, under the direction of the Chairperson, has oversight of all PSC staff related activities.
8/31/10 ESCAPE FROM WISCONSIN: New PSC wind rules: Non participating homeowners setback: Forty story turbine 1240 feet from your house, 440 feet from property line, 50/45 dbA allowable noise, 30 hours allowable shadow flicker. Hope you like it!
Bucky can you hear me?
New PSC wind rules: Non participating homeowners setback: Forty story turbine 1240 feet from your house, 440 feet from property line, 50/45 dbA allowable noise, 30 hours allowable shadow flicker, hush money option for those living within half mile.
SOURCE: PSC PRESS RELEASE at wisbusiness.com
PSC: Finalizes wind siting rules
Contact: Teresa Weidemann-Smith, (608) 266-9600
Uniform Standards Head to the Legislature
MADISON - The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Commission) today finished its work on administrative rules governing the siting of wind turbines in Wisconsin. The rules were drafted in response to 2009 Wisconsin Act 40, recently-enacted legislation directing the Commission to promulgate rules that specify the restrictions local units of government may impose on the installation or use of wind energy systems.
“I am happy to have these rules completed,” said Commission Chairperson Eric Callisto. “Establishing clear and consistent siting standards is critical to removing the confusion that currently surrounds non-utility wind projects in Wisconsin.”
The Commission’s rules will function as a uniform ceiling of standards to guide the local regulation of wind siting, operation, and decommissioning for projects less than 100 megawatts in generating capacity. The rules specify how a political subdivision can establish setback requirements, noise and shadow flicker standards, and mechanisms that give non-participating landowners a stake in wind energy projects sited in their area. The rules include the following provisions:
Notice Requirements. At least 90 days before filing an application, the wind energy system owner must give notice to landowners within one mile of proposed wind turbine locations.
Noise Performance Standards. A political subdivision can require wind energy systems to be sited and operated in a manner that does not exceed 45 dBA during nighttime hours and 50 dBA during daytime hours. Noise limits will be measured from the outside wall of non-participating residences and occupied community buildings.
Shadow Flicker Performance Standards. A political subdivision can require wind energy systems to be sited and operated in a manner that does not cause more than 30 hours per year of shadow flicker for non-participating residences or occupied community buildings. If a wind energy system causes more than 20 hours per year of shadow flicker, a political subdivision can require the wind energy system owner to install mitigation measures for affected landowners, at the expense of the wind turbine owner.
Setbacks. A political subdivision can impose minimum safety setbacks of 1.1 times the maximum blade tip height of a wind turbine for participating residences, non-participating property lines, public road rights-of-way, and overhead communication and electric transmission or distribution lines. Setbacks of up to 3.1 times the maximum blade tip height of a wind turbine may be established for nonparticipating residences and occupied community buildings.
Good Neighbor Payments. The rules allow local units of government to require wind energy system owners to provide monetary compensation to non-participating landowners located within one-half mile of a wind turbine site. A political subdivision may not require these payments for non-participating landowners to exceed 25% of the payments being made to a landowner hosting a wind turbine in the project.
Complaint Resolution. The rules establish complaint resolution requirements for wind energy system owners, and a process for requesting political subdivision review of unresolved complaints. A political subdivision’s decision on review of a complaint is appealable to the Commission.
The Commission’s action today caps off six months of intense work in developing uniform wind siting rules for Wisconsin. As part of its process, the Commission established a 15-member Wind Siting Council, which, after months of deliberations, submitted its recommendations to the Commission earlier this month. The Commission also held public hearings earlier this summer in Fond du Lac, Tomah, and Madison, and accepted over 1800 public comments into the record. The Commission’s rules now head to the Legislature, where the presiding officer of each house will have 10 days to refer the rules to a standing committee for review.
PSC Sets new rules for wind farms
SOURCE: Green Bay Press-Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com
August 31, 2010
By Tony Walter
Wind turbine siting rules approved Monday by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission likely will have little impact on a Chicago-based company’s attempts to build a 100-turbine wind farm in southern Brown County.
The PSC established guidelines for local governments to set restrictions on projects less than 100 megawatts in generating capacity.
However, the Ledge Wind project proposed by Invenergy LLC in the towns of Morrison, Holland, Glenmore and Wrightstown would exceed 100 megawatts. The company submitted its application to the PSC last year but was told to make some changes.
Invenergy officials have said they would wait for the new siting rules before resubmitting their application because they believed the rules might affect their project. Kevin Parzyck, project manager for the Ledge Wind farm, was not available for comment Monday.
The new rules could affect other wind turbine expansion in Brown County.
The rules require wind energy system owners to give 90 days notice about the filing of their turbine proposal to landowners within 1 mile of a proposed location.
The rules would also allow local governments to limit wind farms to not be louder than 45 decibels during nighttime hours and 50 decibels during daytime hours. Normal conversation and background radio noise is rated at 45 decibels. The noise limits will be measured from the outside wall of nonparticipating residences and occupied community buildings.
The rules also let local governments require wind energy system owners to provide monetary compensation to landowners who won’t have turbines on their property but are located within one-half mile of a site. Local officials may not require these payments for nonparticipating landowners to exceed 25 percent of the payments being made to a landowner hosting a wind turbine in the project.
Although the wind farm proposal for southern Brown County wouldn’t be affected by the new rules, Invenergy expects to resubmit its application soon. Invenergy’s efforts to build the wind farm are being opposed by a citizen’s group, Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, that claims Invenergy’s plan poses a health risk to property owners nearby.
A representative from the group could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The Wisconsin Legislature enacted a law in 2009 that directed the PSC to come up with rules to guide local municipalities in their control projects less than 100 megawatts. A Wind Siting Council was appointed to draft the rules, which the PSC approved on Monday.
The Legislature can send the issue back to the PSC for changes or it can accept the commission’s decision by taking no action.
PSC REGULATORS VOTE TO ADOPT WIND STANDARDS
SOURCE Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com
August 30 2010
By Thomas Content
State energy regulators completed work Monday on rules that would restrict the location of wind turbines in Wisconsin.
The Public Service Commission voted 3-0 to adopt standards for noise and shadow flicker, and opted to allow local governments to require “good neighbor payments” to residents who live within one-half mile of a wind turbine but aren’t hosting a turbine on their land.
Commissioners have grappled with details of the rules during a series of meetings over the past few weeks, as the agency scrambled to complete the rules by the end of August. The rules are now being submitted to the state Legislature for review.
At Monday’s meeting, commissioners Mark Meyer and Lauren Azar supported a more stringent safety setback for wind turbines than had been proposed by the commission’s wind siting advisory council. PSC Chairman Eric Callisto said performance standards adopted in the rules meant that a more stringent setback wasn’t required. But Azar argued for a bigger safety setback because it is unclear how well the new performance standards will work.
“What we’re going to see is the loss of some quality land for reasonable projects that, if you followed the (performance) standards, would otherwise be safe,” Callisto said.
In a law passed earlier this year, the Legislature asked the commission to develop the standards that would eliminate a patchwork of regulations and wind-power bans that some counties have passed.
Callisto said in a statement after the meeting that he was pleased the commission has adopted the rules.
“Establishing clear and consistent siting standards is critical to removing the confusion that currently surrounds non-utility wind projects in Wisconsin,” he said.
The rules were controversial because of the tension between wind developers and property owners concerned about shadow flicker, noise and other effects caused by turbines.
The “good neighbor payments” and other restrictions will help address some of the tension, said Dan Ebert, chairman of the wind siting advisory council.
“For non-participating landowners, it’s this sense of loss of control, the sense of decisions being made without considering them, that has resulted in a lot of controversy,” he said. Giving those landowners “a stake in the project so that they will ultimately see some of the direct benefits will go a long way to reducing the controversy.”
The safety setback established by the commission would be 3.1 times the maximum height of a blade. That would be equivalent to the setbacks imposed by the commission when it endorsed the We Energies Glacier Hills wind farm in Columbia County.
The rules adopted govern smaller wind farms. Utility-scale wind farms remain under review under a separate process.
WANT MORE? WIND TURBINES IN THE NEWS:
After investing one billion dollars, John Deere is quitting wind business:
Deere said in February it was reviewing options for John Deere Renewables. It has invested $1 billion over the past five years in the financing, development and ownership of wind energy projects.
On Tuesday, Deere said the deal will allow it to get back to what it does best, which is manufacturing farm equipment.
8/25/10 Wind siting rule talks resume at PSC AND Why is this Canadian doctor recommending longer setbacks? AND what Wisconsin residents are saying about the wind siting rules.
WIND SITING RULE TO BE DISCUSSED BY PSC COMMISSIONERS AT TODAY'S OPEN MEETING
Beginning at 8:00AM
610 North Whitney Way, Madison, Wisconsin
Live audio of the meeting will be broadcast over the web. 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.
MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH BELIEVES WIND TURBINE SETBACKS SHOULD BE LONGER
SOURCE: Lucknow Sentinel, www.lucknowsentinel.com
August 25, 2010
By Sara Bender,
The Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health believes the setbacks for wind turbines should be longer.
Dr. Hazel Lynn told Huron-Kinloss Twp. council at the Aug. 16 township meeting that she would recommend longer setbacks for wind turbines. She said she thinks it’s wrong that municipal councils are unable to determine the setbacks.
Lynn said that, within buildings, Low Frequency Noise (LFN) which comes from wind turbines, could cause health affects, such as inner-ear problems. She said those affects would be less if the setbacks were longer than the provincial setback of 550 metres. She added that symptoms are the same around the world but the problem is that not much is known about wind turbines.
“I think we should stop putting (wind turbines) in until we know more about them,” said Lynn, at the council meeting.
The following day, Lynn told an Owen Sound Sun Times reporter that her comments were misquoted from the council meeting on a local radio station. “What I probably said is we should have longer setbacks, and if you can’t have longer setbacks, well, then maybe we shouldn’t be having them (more wind turbine developments) right now.”
She said European research is ahead of that being done in Canada and minimum setbacks there are between 1.2 and 1.5 kilometers. Europeans are concerned about low frequency sound waves, which are amplified in hilly terrain.
“Basically at this point in Canada, we’re not measuring those things. To say that they can’t hear it so it doesn’t affect you isn’t quite true, probably,” she said. “I suggested to Huron-Kinloss that if I was making the decision — which I’m not — and if I was putting in more wind turbines, I’d want them at least a kilometre or a kilometre and a half distance.”
Also, Huron-Kinloss council was asked to participate in a joint meeting with the Municipality of Huron East and any other municipalities affected by proposed wind farms.
Huron East Council received a request to pass regulations controlling development of wind farms and Huron East was asked to create a bylaw regulating LFN. The Huron East Council is hoping to discuss the feasibility of investigating a LFN bylaw or some other forms of regulations with other municipalities.
Coun. Don Murray said Huron East would take the “test” LFN bylaw to a judge to see if it would stand up in court. He added his support to participate in a joint meeting with other municipalities.
“I agree, we should be participating in these meeting. A low frequency noise bylaw could be a benefit to us,” said Coun. Jim Hanna.
Murray agreed to take part in the meetings. He is also representing the municipality on a Windmill Working Group with Arran-Elderslie. At the July council meeting, Murray and Coun. Anne Eadie was appointed as representatives on the working group. However, since that time, Eadie has indicated she can no longer sit on the committee. Mayor Mitch Twolan agreed to sit on the committee in her place.
Meanwhile, township residents continue to express their concern to council with letters about the Bluewater Wind Power Project that could see 50 wind turbines located between Hwy. 21 and Lake Range Drive.
SECOND FEATURE: STRAIGHT FROM THE DOCKET 1-AC-231
Wisconsin residents respond to PSC wind siting rule talks
FROM FOND DU LAC COUNTY:
I have three wind turbines on my property and get $4,000 for each one.
It`s been 2 years now with the turbines and everyone in the community is irritable and short, they snap back. The best of friends for 35 years, but everyone just snaps.
People are not really mad directly at the wind turbines or even know what they are mad about, they`re just mad, aggressive.
The closest one to my house is 3,000 feet away - way too close.
You don't get sleep at night because they roar like at an airport. I get shadow flicker in my house, but down in the village of Johnsburg where those are about another 1,500 feet away from the turbines - oh probably 4,500 feet total those blades are throwing shadows right over all the house roof tops in entire village .....that`s really bad.
All of our tv's got knocked out too. I can only get local channels when the turbine is turned in a certain direction. 97% of the time, we got no reception. There is no mitigation either.
I go to the doctor and now I`m on a lot of different medications. I`ve been to the hospital a couple of times in the past two years with chest pains. And they just can't figure out what it is, but now we`re all being diagnosed with wind turbine syndrome.
And I sure got it.. It definitely causes depression. Memory loss is the worse issue. I see it so bad in myself and especially my parents who are older. But they at the point where they just don`t care anymore because there`s nothing they can do anyhow.
My dad is a totally different person since these things went up. He stays in bed all day now. Even if he does get up to eat, he just goes back to bed. There is no will anymore. I ask the doctor- how are they doing this to us? He just says he doesn't know..
WE energies called today and they are going to be spraying for weeds, so I asked if there were any more plans for windmills? They said, they don't know. I told em... "This area is completely destroyed, it would make more sense to just put a few up around here as opposed to destroying the rest of the state."
I got turbines and the money doesn't pay off in the end. I`ve gotta spend more on cutting around those things and all them cables. It has destroyed my farmland.
I feel really bad for the folks who don`t have contracts cause they`re still all stuck. Even if a realtor wants to sell a place, the first question a buyer asks is if there are windmills in the area. They just hang up.
They should be paying everyone around who is affected, that way - everyone who wants to move could get out and move. So many want to move and leave, but they can't sell their property. The developers deny devaluation, but it`s real... the ones without contracts lost half the value of their property and can't move because they have no money, still tryin to pay off their homes. At least if you got contracts and enough windmills, you can move out.
It turned out to be a real shocker. This whole thing is not right, it should not be done in small communities, but you know, these are just simple country folk who do just don`t say anything. Even if it`s bad, they just go along with it cause what else are they supposed to do?
If I could write out a check from all the money they gave me and give it back, wake up tomorrow morning and all the turbines be gone, that'd be the best thing that ever happened to me.
I affirm that these comments are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
[We Energies "Blue Sky/Green Field" wind project]
FROM BROWN COUNTY:
To the PSC commissioners,
I think that having a separate day and night noise standard is a mistake and discriminatory.
I have had to work a 3rd shift job during the past two years, and I know a few of my neighbors that have also had to work this shift or a swing shift.
The stated reason that I have seen in the draft for this different day and night standard is that turbine noise may impair the ability of some people to sleep.
Those of us who work during the night and sleep during the day deserve the same stated sleeping protection.
How can a different night and day standard exist if Wisconsin's laws of non-discrimination are to be upheld in your draft rules? I will ask the same question to my representatives at the state level if this is not corrected.
I also would ask that a 3rd party conduct extensive sound studies before and after the installation of a wind farm. What industry conducts its own tests to be in compliance with state laws?
This should not be allowed to take place and invites questionable bias into the sound studies.
I also would like to know the scientific reason for only allowing one sound study to be done every two years if a complaint is made. What is the basis of this rule?
I sincerely hope that commissioners read though the online comments that have been submitted in regards to the rules that you are considering.
After reading the minority report on the submitted draft rules, I have very little faith in the PSC to render a set of rules that is based on current science and the protection of the health and safety of rural tax payers.
Please prove me wrong by considering setbacks that are based on providing safe sitting of wind turbines, and not the monetary concerns of turbine operators.
If fully half of the wind sitting council had a direct financial stake in drafting rules, what else is someone supposed to think of this process. Would the oil companies be allowed to write their own rules?
Please consider a setback distance of at least 2400 feet from people who have not signed contracts for turbines. Let the people who want turbines have them next to their houses with the setbacks that you propose, but please don't risk my sleep, well being, or the ability to sell my home if I have not signed up for a turbine.
I affirm that these comments are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
FROM TOWN OF GREENLEAF:
Thank you for the opportunity to allow me to voice my concerns regarding wind farms in Wisconsin.
I respectfully ask the Commissioners...Do you live in a wind farm? Again, I invite you to take a month retreat to a wind farm and find out first hand what people live with...EVERYDAY and EVERY NIGHT! Research shows a lack of sleep contribrutes to many health risk.
In fact, just a few weeks ago Bellin Health in Green Bay ran a radio campaign promoting their sleep center... the commercial said this... (source bellin.org)
" What`s the price of not sleeping? An extra cup of coffee in the morning to get
going? An occasional night on the couch to give your spouse a break from the snoring? Wrong.
The price of not sleeping is an increased risk of:
Headaches and forgetfulness
Decreased interest in sex
A higher risk to be in an auto accident
9 health issues are listed in this commercial. How many health issues does the PSC need to see in order to WAKE UP and make sure Wisconsin tax payers are protected by wind developers?
Wind development in populated areas is NOT a good idea!
Thank you for your time.
FROM TOWN OF MORRISON:
We are residents in the town of Morrison and in the boundaries of the proposed Ledge Wind Project.
We were offered a contract to host up to 3 turbines for this project and we initially thought that it was a great idea. We decided to research this more.
The information we found was too disturbing to proceed with the contract.
If the Ledge Wind project proceeds as it is currently proposed, we will live near 4 turbines.
Below is a list of comments and concerns we have relating to your current discussion on wind energy development. Some of these concerns were also expressed by us when we testified at the Fond du Lac hearings in June.
1. There is no doubt that wind turbines can be noisy. At the very minimum noise limits should be 40 dba from any occupied structure at any time. People don`t sleep only during the night time hours. Practically speaking, we would want no more than 5 dba over ambient. Low frequency noise should also be addressed as that is reported to be even more disturbing.
2. Non-participating landowners should not have to experience any shadow flicker anywhere on their property. Landowners use their land in a variety of ways and at special seasonal times. One should not have to consider if the flicker is present or not to use their property.
3. Due to noise and shadow flicker, setbacks should be at a minimum of 2640 feet, and should be from property lines for non-participating landowners. Most complaints would be eliminated at this distance, thus preventing countless hours of work and expense trying to mitigate and litigate future problems.
4. Land zoned for building homes needs to be considered when setbacks are determined.
5. For our business and personal use, we rely on wireless technology for our Internet; this should be addressed in the signal interference section. Also, we reserve the right to fully use any future technology which may be interfered by the turbines.
6. Wind developers must be required to prove financial assurance at the time of application. In addition, an appropriate renewal bond and/or escrow should be established before construction starts, in the amount equal to the cost of decommissioning each turbine. This must also be able to be levied against the property if need be.
7. It has been proven that the value of property near wind turbines decline. It is common sense that a property with a wind turbine near it will be worth less than the exact same property without a wind turbine. A property value protection clause for non-participating landowners should be signed by the developer at the time of application. Adjacent land owners` investments must be considered and maintained in every instance.
8. Any study done to research the impacts on wildlife, domestic animals, and human health, along with assessing and/or monitoring noise and shadow flicker, must be done by an independent 3rd party who does not have any financial connection with the developer. It is not acceptable for an industry to be allowed to regulate themselves in any way.
9. What is going to happen to all the people currently being negatively impacted by wind turbines? These concerns need to be addressed too. If you look across Europe and now in our country, it is played out similarly in every community where people are within a mile of turbines. Why are we continuing to make the same stupid mistakes as others?
10. Between our son and ourselves, we have investigated 12 different wind turbine companies. Not one of them could show a positive cash flow, even with the heavy subsidies. The most recent conversation we had with a wind turbine developer stated that the "break even" point was at 17 years. However, this did not consider any return investment, return to the landowners or maintenance and decommissioning costs. Wind is not the answer to our energy problems. It will just put us more financially in the hole as a country with only the developers raking off huge profits and minimal compensation to even hosting landowners.
11. We have planning and zoning committees established for years. These are local people who know the community, the lands and the appropriate uses. Our planning and zoning committee, and our town board have adopted 1) a moratorium on industrial wind turbines 2) a setback of 2640 feet and 3) a sound impact of a maximum of 5 dba over ambient. How can you, the PSC, tell us that our desires, needs and requirements are not as valued as what you think? We know what is best for where we live!
There are simply too many variables relating to wind energy in Wisconsin. Instead of moving ahead blindly, proper, independent studies need to be completed to determine the impacts of wind turbines.
Jon and Lori Morehouse
FROM CALUMET COUNTY
As a member of the Calumet County Ad Hoc Committee and the Townships of Chilton's Wind Advisory Committee I feel it is very important the the PSC makes sure it does things correctly.
I spent over 6 months in study while working on these committees as well as over 4 years on the issue at hand.
The other main issue that we tried to work with is the issue of shadow flicker.
Sound was the Major issue but in many cases the issue of Shadow Flicker caused as much or more problems for people who lived near the Industrial Wind Turbine sites.
In my studies the shadow flicker caused head aches and health problems due to the constant flickering that could not and can not be blocked out with shades or plantings.
A time period of 40 hrs per year is way too much time and often the modeling that the Wind Industry uses in incorrect and once the Turbine is built they do not move it they only have to mitigate or reduce the problem.
What does that [mean for] me? It means only [they only have to ]try and make it less bad! The problem still exists. So shadow Flicker should not be allowed for a period of greater than 90 seconds of any day within a hundred feet of a sensitive receptor not just on the sensitive receptor ['s home]. People work in their yards etc. So they should be protected there also. The shadow flicker causes nausea and dizziness -my own family has had the experience.
So make them place the turbines correctly the first time they do not move them once they are up. If the setback of 2,200 feet is used for sound this will also reduce the issue of the shadow flicker.
I affirm that these comments are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
Daniel W Hedrich
FROM MANITOWOC COUNTY:
I am a Supervisor with the Town of Mishicot, in Manitowoc County. I have a few comments for you to consider while drafting wind turbine rules.
We need to protect residents from negative issues connected with wind turbines. We have to develop a process that gives residents the upper hand to resolve legitimate complaints from windturbines quickly. Wind farm owners should in no way be handling the enforcement of regulations or be in charge of the resolution process.
Having proper setbacks from turbines for things such as noise would adress issues up front, making enforcement and problem resolution a far less common situation in a wind farm.
Low frequency noise has to be addressed.
Places where farm animals as well as humans habitate need to be protected.
We should not be taking property rights of non-participating land owners.
TV and radio signal interference problems need to be resolved quickly, fully, and without cost to residents.
Emergency signals and corridors need to be protected.
Towns need the ability to protect their roads and have damage repaired by the developer with no cost to the Town.
I've been following this issue for 6 years and at times have been fully disgusted at the way the State of Wisconsin has handled things.
From taking away local control, to setting up a heavily weighted pro wind committee to establish guidelines for turbines.
Myself and others see our property and wind rights over our lands being taken, allowing windfarm developers to dictate to us what we can do with our lands and casting unsafe zones over our properties limiting how we can develop it.
We are losing rights we currently have and the State seems all so happy to do it. We are promoting something that will never provide economical baseload power, and in my area, where there are nuclear plants, the proposed wind farm may very well use up the remaining capacity of the local grid (even though much of the time turbines won't be producing electricity) thus eliminating the addition of new reactors without spending millions of dollars to upgrade the grid.
I expect the health and safety and rights of residents to be protected. I ask that you take the time to create a set of rules that properly address the issues.
MORE FROM MANITOWOC COUNTY
I would like to address a few additional concerns with the wind siting rules.
1) It was my understanding the siting council was supposed to review the existing wind energy ordinances in the state. This was never discussed at the meetings.
Towns and Counties spent years working on these ordinances, which is far more than the 5 months the siting council was allowed. These ordinances were written after doing a great amount of research without allowing influence by the financially motivated.
2) Act 40 and statute 66.0401 clearly state that rules can be set to protect health and safety regardless if those rules increase the cost of the system, yet when the council discussed setbacks and noise limits, the discussion always led to the increased cost of the system.
Health and safety must be considered before profits and politics.
3) Turbine companies recommend using relative rather than fixed noise limits, the majority of the council voted against this. I believe 5dba over ambient is the fair way to go. There was a great amount of research submitted to the docket that supports this limit.
I also feel a ½ mile setback would be more appropriate. Many documents submitted to the docket support this, and even greater setbacks, up to 1-2 miles. Other countries have started with shorter setbacks and have realized they are not adequate and are now using much larger ones. Please, use their mistakes as a learning curve and do not repeat them.
4) Please use a 3rd party for all testing required as well as the computer modeling for siting purposes. Wind energy reps are still lying to landowners, telling them that there are no negative health effects from the turbines.
As members of the PSC, you have acknowledged that there are negative health effects and are struggling with how to write rules to deal with these issues.
If the developers are lying to landowners when trying to get them to host turbines, and then including gag orders in the lease contracts preventing them from complaining about any negative effects that they say do not exist, what else are they lying about?
We can’t allow this industry to self-test in any way. The wind industry is not regulated and must be overseen, especially when their actions can have such a serious negative effect on health and safety of our good Wisconsin families.
We already have too many non-participating families that are suffering and have no recourse because the developer is “within” the limits that were set by the PSC or they signed away their rights in a contract with a gag order.
Act 40 clearly states, “The subject matter of these rules shall include setback requirements that provide reasonable protection from any health effects, including health effects from noise and shadow flicker, associated with wind energy systems”.
Two years ago, energy committees in the house and the senate listened to testimony related to Senate Bill 185. The proposed bill was asking that the PSC be given state wide control to promulgate rules establishing common standards for political subdivisions to regulate the construction and operation of wind energy systems.
While the proposed bill stated “rules must specify the restrictions a political subdivision may impose on the installation or use of such a system, and may include subjects such as visual appearance, setback distances, decommissioning, shadow flicker, electrical connections to the power grid, and interference with radio telephone, or television signals”,
Act 40, the passed bill, clearly has changed may to shall and added “The subject matter of these rules shall include setback requirements that provide reasonable protection from any health effects, including health effects from noise and shadow flicker, associated with wind energy systems”.
It is clear the original intent of the bill was to take away the “patchwork” effect of local control, and the legislature did make the decision to do so. But they also clearly chose to add amendments to the original bill, and made it clear in ACT 40 that the siting council and the PSC shall create rules for reasonable protection from any health effects, including those from noise and shadow flicker.
It seems, according to state statute, that our legislators have already determined that health effects from noise and shadow flicker do exist and are directing this council and the PSC to set reasonable rules to protect the public.
Dr. McFadden has determined that after reviewing the information that there is not sufficient evidence showing there are negative health effects directly related to wind turbines. Chairman Ebert also stated according to his beliefs and feelings, he agrees with Dr. McFadden.
It appears that it is not the decision of this council or the PSC to make whether or not there are health effects but to determine what rules are reasonable to protect against them.
The energy committees and the legislature would not have added that specific element to the statute unless they determined, after public hearings in 2008, that the existing rules were insufficient to address the health and safety concerns brought forth by the public.
Act 40 also states: “The wind siting council shall survey the peer−reviewed scientific research regarding the health impacts of wind energy systems and study state and national regulatory developments regarding the siting of wind energy systems.
No later than the first day of the 60th month beginning after the effective date of this paragraph ....[LRB inserts date], and every 5 years thereafter, the wind siting council shall submit a report to the chief clerk of each house of the legislature, for distribution to the appropriate standing committees under s. 13.172 (3), describing the research and regulatory developments and including any recommendations of the council for legislation that is based on the research and regulatory developments”.
I do not see anywhere that it directs these bodies to look at only peer-reviewed research. It states that they shall survey the peer-reviewed scientific research, but nowhere does it limit us or prohibit from looking at other material, including surveying those already self-reporting the negative health effects of living in a wind farm.
I suggest that we conduct an independent survey of those people that are already suffering the negative effects before this council proceeds any further. We need to figure out what was done wrong with the existing wind farms before we go installing more and allowing more families to become collateral damage. This is something that should have been done the day the turbines began spinning in the existing wind farms. There would have been actual data to study.
Act 40 also does not direct us to set rules to make sure wind turbines are sited in the state. It does however distinctly direct this council to set rules that provides reasonable protection from any health effects. It does not state unless those restrictions eliminate some wind turbine sites.
State statute clearly states that only one of the following be met: To preserve or protect the public health or safety, or where the restriction does not significantly increase the cost of the system or significantly decrease its efficiency, or where the locality allows for an alternative system of comparable cost and efficiency.
One thing that has been lacking in the debate is what to do with those poor families already suffering.
Consider it a “recall” on a bad product. The State of Wisconsin needs to do two things. Prevent this debacle from ever happening to anyone else residing in the State of Wisconsin and they seriously look at what they need to do to assist and compensate those families already suffering from the negligent siting of industrial wind turbines.
The way their lives have been ruined is a travesty. Common Sense tells us that reasonable protection would not be using the same standards as were used in the existing wind farms, which was recommended by the financially motivated majority of the wind siting council.
Please be reasonable and set rules that will protect us as your mission statements expresses; We consider and balance diverse perspectives and we endeavor to protect the environment, and the public interest and the public health and welfare.
As Act 40 clearly does not designate to the PSC a time frame for promulgating the rules, so we definitely have more than enough time to give this the attention it distinctly deserves.
The following is transcribed from Dr. McFadden’s (who also suggested a 40dba limit) comments at the June 2nd meeting and I feel is quite important to address:
“From a health stand point we can’t come up with a figure that is in the best interest of the people of Wisconsin, unfortunately the legislature singled out health and safety.
At least based on the admittedly not great literature that’s available on this issue, health and safety are not a primary concern with the setbacks we have been using.
However, there are many other issues which are reasonable concerns. Issues of annoyance are things that we have to take into account. Such as WHO defines annoyance as an adverse health effect, but at the CDC and our health department that’s not something we use as our threshold for when we intervene. But I do think we have to take that into account.
So the only thing I have to go on, I reviewed the literature, the only number that jumps out and the studies of the Swedish and the Netherlands, they did show a statistically significant increase in self reported sleep disturbance beginning at 45dba.
That is not great data but it is the best we have to go on. It is not the quality of research that you would like to base decisions on necessarily, but furthermore self reported sleep disturbance is a highly subjective outcome. But never the less if we’re trying to look at the literature and base decisions on that, that’s probably the best marker that we have.
Annoyance from shadow flicker again is a real concern.
I don’t know that that’s been quantified sufficiently to say that people who are exposed to shadow flicker 25 hours a year are annoyed and those that are exposed less are not annoyed.
I don’t know that there is a specific number, maybe Andy or others would be privy to that sort of information. I think at some point we have to come to a determination to what is an acceptable level of annoyance just as we do with all development projects and try to keep annoyance, property values or other impacts, try to at least put them on the same page as health issues."
I beg you to set rules that will protect us from any and all negative effects. Please keep in mind that wind is not the only renewable and consider other forms of renewable for highly populated rural areas. I would reference the E4 initiative started by Senator Feingold. There are so many families that could benefit tremendously from assistance with improving the energy efficiency of their homes, which would reduce their utility costs rather than increase it, as will happen with the high cost of wind energy.
The PSC vows to be a leader in the state and in the nation by facilitating, promoting and ensuring the availability of affordable, reliable, environmentally sound and safe utility services. Please be true to that promise and set rules to insure our safety and promote renewable energy for our rural areas that will save us money not cost us more.
I truly appreciate the opportunity to submit comments. This is an issue that we are deeply concerned about as it will affect us in a very big way. It has been life changing in a very bad way to so many and the rest of us are scared as we have seen personally what can happen. It was at first stories on the computer about those affected, now we have visited and met these people personally, which is deeply depressing to say the least.
Mishicot, WI 54228
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
RECEIVED: 08/24/10, 7:31:36 PM
FROM WISCONSIN DIVISION OF AGRICULTURE, TRADE, AND CONSUMER PROTECTION (DATCP)
DATCP is concerned about the impact of wind turbines on vegetable production in Wisconsin. Aerial applicators have stated that it is not safe to aerially apply within one-half mile of wind turbines because they are a barrier to safe application and create a wind wake that can be dangerous to the pilot.
Vegetable production relies heavily on aerial applications of plant protection products in order to ensure yield and quality products. Multiple aerial applications on high-value vegetable crops are often required and must be applied quickly after a pest problem or disease is identified. Under wet conditions, aerial application is the only alternative.
Locating wind turbines in intense vegetable production areas exposes these fields to significant risk of crop revenue loss. It affects not only the growers, but the vegetable processors that depend on reliable production and quality levels to run their processing facilities efficiently. Processing facilities are often located near areas of intense vegetable production and are a significant employer in the local economies.
Aerial application of pesticides on vegetables is concentrated in limited areas of Wisconsin. In general, these are areas not identified as having good wind production potential.
The Council Draft Rule version 1.0 dated 4-13-10 included a provision that allowed a political subdivision to require a developer, owner or operator to provide compensation to farm operators on nonparticipating properties within an unspecified distance from a wind turbine site for reductions in crop production or increased application costs due to the wind energy system`s effect on aerial spraying.
The Commission has not included this provision in the most recent draft because it would be difficult to administer. DATCP has been working with UW-Madison on methods to assess these crop loses and believes that a workable process can be established that would provide justifiable compensation.
The rule could allow for a compensation mechanism without specifying the details needed to implement it. This would be similar to Wis. Stats. s. 182.017 (7)(b), which allows compensation for damages when land is rendered less accessible to farm implements and aircraft used in crop production as a result of locating transmission lines and associated facilities. The statute does not specify the process through which compensation for damages is determined, simply that it is allowed.
Thank you for considering our comments.