Entries in wind farm legislation (4)
3/30/11 Wind rules head back to PSC under new Chairman AND Down under or up over, it's the same old song: secretive wind developers keep tearing up rural communities
PSC TO START OVER ON WIND SITING RULES
March 30, 2011
by Steve Prestegard
For the second time in less than a year, statewide wind siting rules developed by the state Public Service Commission were sent back for more work.
Tuesday’s vote nullifies the rule developed last year and requires the commission to start over.
Last year the PSC modified the rule slightly but not enough to satisfy groups who have mobilized to block wind farm developments, including the large Ledge Wind project in Brown County that developer Invenergy canceled last week.
At issue is how close turbines may be erected from nearby properties. Wind farms in Wisconsin have used setbacks of 1,000 feet from nearby homes, in the case of the Blue Sky Green Field wind project in Fond du Lac county, and 1,250 feet, in the case of the Glacier Hills Wind Park now under construction in Columbia County.
But opponents of wind farms, concerned about noise and shadow flicker from turbines, are seeking much bigger setbacks, and Gov. Scott Walker this year proposed a bill that would establish setbacks of 1,800 feet from a property line — which would mean even farther from a nearby residence.
Tuesday’s vote came one day after Gov. Scott Walker appointed a fellow Republican, former state Rep. Phil Montgomery, to chair the state Public Service Commission.
The wind siting issue will be among the key decisions facing Montgomery, along with a proposed biomass plant We Energies has sought to build at a Domtar Corp. paper mill in North Central Wisconsin.
Montgomery will start his term Monday, succeeding commissioner and former state Sen. Mark Meyer.
The bill that was introduced and passed by the committee on Tuesday would give the PSC six months to come up with a new wind siting rule. But the PSC won't have to meet that deadline until six months after the bill is passed, signed by Gov. Walker, and published, said Jason Rostan, the legislative committee clerk.
The Legislature’s joint committee for review of administrative rules voted Tuesday to punt the thorny issue of how close wind turbines should be from nearby properties back to the state Public Service Commission.
The committee voted 5–3 to introduce the bill along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats against. The same committee had voted earlier this month to block the PSC wind siting rule from taking effect.
Tuesday’s vote essentially ends development of the rule it drafted last year, and requires the commission to start over on a new one.
Wind energy developers said they wanted to see the rule go into effect because it gave developers guidance on how to proceed with investments in wind projects.
But Republicans sided with wind-farm opponents and the Wisconsin Realtors Association and Wisconsin Towns Association, which considered the PSC rule to favorable to wind-industry interests and too restrictive from a property rights perspective.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: This story could have been written about any Wisconsin community targeted by wind developers: Sneak into a community and offer the big landowners big money to agree to host turbines and most importantly keep their mouths shut about the plan. These moves are straight from the wind developers playbook.
PUTTING THE WIND UP THEM
SOURCE: Goulburn Post, www.goulburnpost.com.au
March 30, 2011
by Alby Schultz
There was a public meeting in the small town of Boorowa in my federal electorate of Hume a short while ago.
A good percentage of the population packed the ex-services club to hear first-hand about the rumours swirling through the community that this area was to be the site of a massive wind generation project.
There were audible gasps from the audience as it was revealed that the project was indeed real, that it would span some 35 kilometres and involve the construction of more than 100 turbines.
There were more gasps when it became apparent that the wind energy developer had actually been in negotiations with some of their neighbours for many months.
The meeting heard that the farmers who had been quietly persuaded to host the turbines would reap tens of thousands of dollars in rental a year.
They heard about pilots who wouldn’t fight fires or dust crops if they had to fly in the vicinity of the giant swirling blades.
They heard about possible health effects for those on neighbouring land ranging from heart palpitations to migraine headaches.
But this is not an argument against wind power. It is also not a criticism of farmers who have struggled through a decade of drought and see the way clear to make some alternative income.
There may indeed be areas where wind turbines can be built and where the impact is minimal. But there are many areas where they should not be constructed. As things stand though I truly fear our rural social capital – as fragile as our topsoils – is in places being chopped to pieces by turbine blades.
We need to start by calling a spade a spade. These turbines are not ‘farming’. That is Orwellian nonsense. This is industrial scale power production in green clothing. These are major commercial developments and should be considered in the same way as any major development.
A decade ago wind turbines were almost human in scale. But the turbines which some of the Boorowa farmers will have built near their homes (the closest will be just over a 1000 metres away) are truly gargantuan. If one of these turbines was standing on Sydney Harbour, its blades would be well clear of the top of the Harbour Bridge.
I warrant that should a neighbour decide to build a two storey extension overlooking the backyard of one of these Sydney bureaucrats there would be an immediate cry of “you can’t destroy my amenity and land value like that!”
And yet when a farming community raises concerns about mega turbines they are labelled ‘nimbys’ (not in my backyard).
Local decision making must be put back into prime place. At present it is hopelessly biased towards the developer. The state government boasts that large wind developments are considered ‘critical infrastructure’ and given the red carpet treatment with a guaranteed four month approval processes.
Communities are provided just 30 days to digest and provide comment before the Minister gives the project a tick. Better still the states should all revisit the National Wind Code which the Howard Government proposed in 2006 and which they rejected.
The code would have seen legislation eventually produced right around the country better protecting local community rights.
Wherever large wind generation projects arrive the plot is predictable. A wind company identifies an area with good wind resources and reasonably close to the national grid. They begin quiet negotiations with landowners.
In my view, these power companies preying on landholders who in most case have had no cash-flow as a result of nine years of heartbreaking drought. Well down the track others in the community find out.
Those who have done the deals face bitterness and anger. Those who missed out feel betrayed and angry. Sydney based bureaucrats need to understand the impact this has in small rural communities.
There is precious little interaction when you live on a property an hour or more from your rural centre – perhaps just at special events or football or cricket matches. Wind turbine money in my electorate has poisoned those relationships.
Families stop talking to each other. Animosity and bitterness run deep. Whole rural farming communities are fractured and it lasts for years. The NSW Industry Department’s website says that whilst planned or operating wind power installations in NSW will deliver 960 megawatts at present there is potential to grow that to 3000 megawatts (a 300 per cent increase)!
The implication of that for rural communities in Hume, and elsewhere, are truly frightening unless we give local communities far more say over whether or not they want wind turbines of this scale in their area.
1/18/11 Hot off the Press! Walker's Bill AND But they said it would be only as loud as a refrigerator AND Wind developers: Do they have what it takes to take what you have? Unless Walker's bill passes, the answer is yes AND from our "What the ---" department: Anti-local government wind lobbyist spins Walker bill as anti-local government
Click on the images above to hear the sound of wind turbines in DeKalb County, IL. The top video was recorded yesterday.
Who is losing sleep because of wind turbine noise? The video above was shot from the home of this family.
This is the family, these are the children now living with the noise from poorly sited industrial turbines. You can read about what has happened to their lives since the turbines went on line by CLICKING HERE to visit their website
Note from the BPWI research nerd: While the 1800 foot setback from property lines proposed in Governor Walker's bill will not solve the the problem of wind turbine noise or shadow flicker it will provide much more protection for Wisconsin residents than the PSC's recent adoption of wind-developer-friendly rules, and make it more difficult for developers to site projects without the consent of the people who will be living with the turbines.
This is why wind developers and national and local lobbyists are pushing hard to make sure this bill does not pass.
WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO PROTECT PROPERTY RIGHTS IN THE BADGER STATE
Please support Governor Walker's effort to increase industrial wind turbine setbacks to 1800 feet from from property lines. This setback will protect your right to build and plant trees on your land.
Current PSC rules allow turbines to be as close as 410 feet from your property line. They also prohibit you from building anything within 1250 feet of a wind turbine located on your neighbor's property. This turns portions of your land into a no-build and no-tree zone even though the turbine is not on your property. Some have long argued that this constitutes a 'taking' of your property.
Without the wind company's permission, one family in the We Energies Blue Sky Green Field wind project in Fond du Lac County can't build a long-planned attached garage onto their home because of wind turbines on their neighbor's farmland. Families who intended to build on their own land or add onto their homes are not be able to do so because of turbines located just 400 feet from their property lines.
A wind developer prospecting in Rock County expressed his feelings about impact to non participating property owners this way: "There are always winners and losers in any project."
Better Plan encourages you to contact Governor Walker's office to thank him for including a more protective setback in this proposed bill than that created by the Public Service Commission. We also urge you to contact your senator and representative right away to ask them to support this important bill.
CONTACT Governor Scott Walker firstname.lastname@example.org
115 East Capitol
Madison WI 53702
From our "What the ---? department:
“This unreasonable proposal is a steamroller driven by anti-wind special interests, like realtors, bent on denying local governments the ability to decide what’s in their best interests,” said Vickerman.-
Michael Vickerman worked hard to help pass a bill which stipped all local government in our state of the power to enact ordinances regulating wind siting in their communities and also overturned local wind ordinances. He is a PSC appointed member of Wisconsin's Wind Siting Council and in 2010 was a registered and paid lobbyist for RENEW Wisconsin whose clients include Alliant Energy, ATC, We Energies, MG&E, North American Hydro, WPPI, and major wind developers such as Invenergy, EnXco, Horizon Wind, Emerging Energies and other wind developers with projects pending in our state. [SOURCE]-
UPDATE: Although registered as a lobbyist in the past, Mr. Vickerman's name does not appear on the most recent list of 2011 lobbyists for RENEW Wisconsin. CLICK HERE FOR SOURCE
Here's the most recent press release written by Michael Vickerman
RENEW Wisconsin: Walker’s wind siting proposal strips local control
Mandating by statute an extreme setback distance for commercial wind turbines, Governor Scott Walker’s wind siting proposal would strip local governments of their ability to negotiate lesser setback distances with wind developers, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy group.
Walker’s proposal would require a setback distance between a turbine and neighboring property line of 1,800 feet, which can be shortened only by an agreement between the project owner and owners of adjoining properties, entirely bypassing towns and counties.
Walker’s proposal would eliminate the ability of local governments to attract wind developments that would generate revenues in lieu of taxes to help buffer the expected cuts to local governments in the upcoming state budget.
A story in the Fond du Lac Reporter on January 12 quoted town and county officials as saying the wind project revenue helped save on property taxes by filling the gap between rising municipal expenses and declining state-paid shared revenue dollars.
“We’ve seen five towns in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties enter into joint development agreements specifying reasonable setback distances because town officials wanted to capture the economic benefits of hosting wind projects larger than 50 megawatts,” Vickerman said.
The statewide siting rule, approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and set to take effect March 1, preserved local government authority to specify less restrictive conditions. “This unreasonable proposal is a steamroller driven by anti-wind special interests, like realtors, bent on denying local governments the ability to decide what’s in their best interests,” said Vickerman.
How big are those blades again? CLICK ON the image below to see turbine blades being transported by train.
EXTRA CREDIT READING:
Where is Ex-Governor Doyle working now?
AND.... Extra credit question: WHY ARE GOLDWIND EMPLOYEES DANCING IN A CHINESE WIND FARM? COULD IT BE THE U.S. STIMULUS DOLLARS? To read more about it, CLICK HERE
12/20/10 Radio Radio: Listen to wind rules discussed on WORT'S 'A Public Affair' AND! This Just In: Yet another letter from legislators to Senator Plale asking him to object to the wind rules BUT Is there a mailbox in his spider hole?
EXTRA CREDIT READING:
CLICK HERE for Clean Wisconsin's 2009 testimony to the Public Service Commission during the Glacier Hills Wind Project hearings--Clean Wisconsin tells the PSC there will no CO2 reduction because of the implementation of the Glacier Hills project unless the PSC also requires a coal fired plant to be shut down.
Result: The PSC approves the project with no requirement that a coal-fired plant to be shut down.
December 16, 2010
Dear Senator Plale and Representative Soletski,
We are writing to express our concerns regarding Clearinghouse Rule 10-057 which sets state-wide standards for the siting of wind towers.
The Rule pending before your committee should be sent back to the Public Service Commission for modifications.
We appreciate the work of both committees on this proposed rule. Much of the citizen reaction, including that of your constituents raised serious concerns about the effects of the rule. We are grateful for the committee action in October to return the rule to the PSC for modifications.
Unfortunately, the PSC modified Rule sent back to your committee this month does not address the concerns expressed by citizens of members of your committee.
Specifically, we are deeply concerned about the setback provisions and its effect on neighbors to properties containing wind towers. Substantial testimony was provided by citizens describing this setback as completely unacceptable.
It seems the PSC has entirely disregarded the will of Wisconsin's citizens and elected officials.
We respectfully urge you to consider the will of the people and those whom they have elected. We ask the committee to either return the rule to the PSC for further modifications or act quickly to object to the proposed rule so it can be taken up the Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules.
Thank you for your attention to this matter,
31st Senate District
91st Assembly District
7/28/10 DOUBLE FEATURE: Wind foxes finalize rules for hen house, and they look just like the old ones that have caused so much trouble for residents of rural Wisconsin AND Yet another wind turbine blade failure in an Invenergy wind project
What happens when rules are written by those who stand to gain financially from the outcome?
Wind siting council member Larry Wunsch has been living with a 400 foot tall wind turbine sited just 1100 feet from his door for over two years.
Council Member Dwight Sattler lives about half a mile from the closest turbine to his house. He says he can sometimes hear them, but at half a mile it doesn't bother him.
At half a mile, no problem. At 1100 feet, the noise is bad enough to cause the Wunsch family to put their home up for sale.
Longer setbacks and lower noise limits mean greater protection for rural Wisconsin residents, but less money for those with financial interests.
Should the wind siting council consider what Larry Wunsch has to say when creating siting recommendations for our state?
Or should they follow Wind Sitng Council chairman Dan Ebert's lead and gloss over the issues to speed up the process in order to create guidelines which protect business interests instead of residents of rural Wisconsin?
ANOTHER 'CAUSE UNKNOWN' TURBINE BLADE FAILURE IN ILLINOIS
SOURCE: The Times, mywebtimes.com
July 27, 2010 Dan Churney,
Barbara Ellsworth was troubled, but not surprised Saturday morning when she spotted a broken blade on a wind tower near her home.
“We thought, ‘Hah! We knew that would happen.’”
Ellsworth and her husband Mike live three miles south of Marseilles on East 2450th Road, about 1,200 feet from a wind turbine and about 2,500 feet from one of the two towers damaged during the weekend, possibly by high winds. Chicago-based Invenergy Wind operates the string of towers that run through southeastern La Salle County.