Entries in wind siting rules (4)
10/24/10 They've known about the trouble since 2004: why is the Public Service Commission still pushing for short setbacks between turbines and homes?
SAVE THE DATE!!!
On Tuesday, November 9th the Assembly Committee on Commerce, Utilites, Energy and Rail will hold a full public hearing at the capitol because of questions raised regarding the Public Service Commission's new wind siting rules for the state of Wisconsin.
The public is encouraged to attend and to provide testimony regarding specific concerns about the rules.
Tuesday, November 9th at 10:30 a.m. in Room 417 North at the State Capitol Building: Hearing relating to Clearinghouse Rule 10-057
TESTIMONY PRESENTED AT THE SENATE HEARING ON WIND RULES CREATED BY THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
In 2004 the Energy Center of Wisconsin published a report for the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration Division of Energy entitled, “A Study of Wind Development in Wisconsin, A Collaborative Report”. On page 48, under “Turbine Placement” it states:
The first generation of wind power projects in Wisconsin (particularly in Kewaunee County) showed that unless developers pay attention to the placement of turbines, noise and blade flicker could become significant issues for nearby residences.
The importance of turbine placement and wind farm design cannot be overemphasized. Developers need to make use of visual rendering tools to ensure their project explicitly evaluates the potential effect of noise levels and blade flicker on host landowners and adjacent property owners.
The proposed Wind Siting Rules do very little to ensure the fulfillment of this industry supported recommendation.
Wind development stakeholders will testify that these rules are the strictest wind siting rules in the nation.
Last week, Goodhue County became the second county in Minnesota in the last year to adopt wind siting rules which included a key provision that would impose a wind turbine setback of 10 “rotor-diameters” or about 1/2mile, from homeowners not participating in a commercial wind project — unless those homeowners agree to less stringent standards.
Some wind siting council members were prepared to discuss other ordinances in the U.S. and internationally as provided in Act 40. The subject wasn’t opened for discussion. In fact, Wisconsin is breaking ground by taking away all local control in the development of wind projects.
Shadow flicker modeling and noise modeling standards are left to the discretion of each wind developer. This is one area that should have more uniformity set by the PSC for input parameters. Wind developers are not vetted by the state. There are no consequences for bad actors or modeling errors.
Impacts should be mitigated with proper siting. There is too much emphasis on band-aid methods to comply and mitigate after the turbine installation instead of being confident that the PSC has put forth accurate siting rules.
Having a rule for notice of process for making complaints sent to all residents within a ½ mile before construction just signals the community that problems are most certainly expected.
Under the complaint process in the wind siting rules, the rule states that a complaint shall be made first to the owner of the wind energy system pursuant to a complaint resolution process developed by the owner.
It further states that after 45 days the complainant may then petition the local government for review of a complaint.
The permitting authority is the local government. Complaint resolution should be administered by them.
Unlike a wind turbine owner, the town or county boards are elected officials who have the intrinsic responsibility to protect the health and safety and welfare of their constituents even if the rules remind them that they are restricted by statute 66.0401.
The rules should be clear on what procedural methods and tools the local governments have to investigate complaints.
For example how do they determine if noise limits are exceeded? What is the definition of “curtailment” and how shall that be measured?
There should be a stipulation for funds to be collected before project construction, and held in escrow to address investigation of complaints after the project is operational, as provided for in the permitting and construction process. In addition there should be a clear procedure for an appeal process to the PSC if the wind turbine owner determines the complaint resolution is unreasonable and refuses to comply.
The rules are silent on mechanisms of enforcement. Local governments need to know what their enforcement authority is. Most towns do not have authority to issue citations for non-compliance in operations in their towns. What tools does a local government have to ensure that the siting standards are met without burdening the community with litigation costs for 25 years?
A wind project may be the single most intrusive development that engulfs a community.
Have the Wisconsin legislators carefully reviewed the evidence that wind energy will live up to the marketing rhetoric; reduce our dependency on foreign oil, reduce C02 emissions and reduce imports of fossil fuels?
If so, then more lessons need to be learned from our existing installed wind projects to make continuing development sustainable. Accepting the same methods of planning developments as in the past has done nothing but fuel opposition. The wind siting rules as written have done nothing to minimize this.
Evansville, WI 53536
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD:
Better Plan would like to thank Cathy Bembinster for providing us with a copy of their testimony so we can share it here.
CLICK HERE to watch Wisconsin Eye video of the Senate Committee wind rules hearing. After you click on the link, click "Watch" under 10.13.10 Senate committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy and Rail.
Better Plan would also like to thank Wisconsin Eye for making this video available to the public.
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.
7/5/10 The headache Down Under: Like a bad neighbor, Acciona is there AND Wind siting council meeting on Tuesday
Noel Dean has a farm at Waubra but he and his family moved out 13 months ago when their headaches worsened.
“Sore ears, pain in and around the eyes, pain on top of the head, pain in the back of the head, behind the ears and early this year, we started to get throbbing pain at the back of the head and tinnitus,” he said.
“We couldn’t stay there another night – it was that bad.”
RESIDENTS REJECT WIND FARM HEALTH FINDINGS
SOURCE: ABC News, www.abc.net.au July 5 2010
By Kellie Lazzaro,
Campaigners against wind farms have rejected a report finding no scientific evidence to link wind turbines to health problems.
The National Health and Medical Research Council, which advises the Federal Government, found that there was no evidence that the turbines’ low frequency noise or shadow flicker made people sick.
But residents of Waubra in Victoria’s south-west who live near the state’s largest wind farm, say they are sick and are convinced that wind turbines are to blame.
Noel Dean has a farm at Waubra but he and his family moved out 13 months ago when their headaches worsened.
“Sore ears, pain in and around the eyes, pain on top of the head, pain in the back of the head, behind the ears and early this year, we started to get throbbing pain at the back of the head and tinnitus,” he said.
“We couldn’t stay there another night – it was that bad.”
Mr Dean first complained to the Waubra wind farm operator Acciona in May last year, but the company refused to give him access to the outcome of its investigation.
He then commissioned an independent report into noise levels at his property at a cost of more than $40,000.
He has just received that report by Noise Measurement Services and says it confirms there is a link between the low frequency noise from wind farms and adverse health effects.
“Anything from 1 to 20 hertz can cause adverse health effects and that is what we have found in a pulsing motion. It is a pulsing motion that makes the effects just a lot worse,” he said.
But in a rapid review of existing studies, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has found there is no published evidence of direct pathological effects from wind farms.
The director of the council’s evidence and advice branch, Professor John McCallum, says they have brought together opinion and evidence from all around the world.
“Shadow flicker is the flicking on and off of wind turbine shadows as the blades rotate. It is the glint off the surface of the blades and those are now minimised by treatment of the blades that prevents reflective glint as well, and they are the kind of four main areas that people talk about health effects from,” he said.
He says World Health Organisation (WHO) studies have found no reliable evidence that sound below the hearing threshold will produce physiological or psychological effects.
The NHMRC report refers to a study of three wind farms in the UK that found if people are worried about their health, they may become anxious and suffer stress-related illnesses.
For this reason Professor John McCallum says people who believe they are experiencing health problems should consult a GP, but he says the report commissioned by Noel Dean about noise levels on his farm would need to be further tested.
Donald Thomas also lives at Waubra and was a big supporter of the wind farm, until he too started getting headaches, heart palpitations and high blood pressure.
“We’ve invited the Health Minister and top health officials to actually come out to Waubra to talk to us and see what the problem is first hand, but none of them have bothered to do that. They just look at overseas studies and pick the ones that suit them,” he said.
The National Health and Medical Research Council acknowledges the health effects of renewable energy generation have not been assessed to the same extent as those from traditional sources and recommends authorities continue to monitor research.
The National Environment Protection and Heritage Council has met in Darwin today to consider national wind farm development guidelines.
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: Acciona has several projects in the works in Wisconsin, but we've had no luck getting them to tell us what their plans are for our communities.
WIND SITING HEARING NOTICE
Tuesday July 6, 2010, beginning at 1:00 p.m and 6:00 p.m.
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
First Floor, Amnicon Falls Room
610 North Whitney Way, Madison, Wisconsin
Audio and video of the meeting will be broadcast from the PSC Website beginning at 1:00.
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.
Wind Siting Council
1) Welcome/Review of today’s agenda
2) Review and adoption of meeting minutes of June 21, 2010 & June 23, 2010
3) Straw proposal amendment ballot results
4) Straw proposal revisions based on ballot results
5) Additional revisions to straw proposal prior to end of public comment period
6) Next steps/Discussion of next meeting’s time, place and agenda
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: