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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Calumet County morass blocks wind projects again

Immediate release
January 16, 2008

More information
Ed Blume
RENEW Wisconsin
608.819.0748
eblume@renewwisconsin.org

Katie Nekola
Clean Wisconsin
knekola@cleanwisconsin.org
608.251.7020, ext. 14

Calumet County morass blocks wind projects again

Clean energy advocates expressed frustration over the Calumet County board’s adoption of a 70-day moratorium on issuing permits for wind turbines.

The action leaves wind developers wondering whether the County, which has among the best wind resources in the state, is effectively off-limits to commercial-scale projects.

State law requires utilities to get 10 percent of the electricity they sell from renewable sources by 2015, but local restrictions have paralyzed wind developers from moving ahead with project to help meet the goal.

"As far as the wind industry is concerned, countywide limits and delays speak louder than the state’s renewable energy goals,” said Katie Nekola, energy program director for Clean Wisconsin.

“What's the point of state government promoting renewable energy development in Wisconsin when it’s practically impossible to obtain permits for wind turbines?" asked Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide nonprofit group that promotes renewable energy.

"This marks the third moratorium on wind development adopted by Calumet County 2005. It seems that every time the Board considers changes to its ordinance regulating wind turbines, it moves farther and farther away from resolving the controversy and allowing projects to move ahead. What a morass Calumet County has become!" Vickerman said.

Between the moratorium in Calumet County and a restrictive ordinance in Manitowoc County, four wind projects totaling 200 megawatts (enough to power 60,000 Wisconsin homes) have ground to a halt, Vickerman added.

RENEW and Clean Wisconsin back a proposal being considered by the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force that would allow wind developers to seek approval from the Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulates utilities and large wind projects (over 100 megawatts), instead of local authorities.
“Wisconsin cannot afford to lose clean energy opportunities at a time when our Governor and others in the region have made a commitment to stopping global warming,” said Nekola.

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Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization, protects Wisconsin's clean water and air and advocates for clean energy by being an effective voice in the state legislature and by holding elected officials and corporations accountable. Founded in 1970 as Wisconsin's Environmental Decade, Clean Wisconsin exposes corporate polluters, makes sure existing environmental laws are enforced, and educates citizens and businesses. Phone: 608-251-7020, Fax: 608-251-1655, Email: info@cleanwisconsin.org, Website: www.cleanwisconsin.org.

RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. More information on RENEW’s Web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.

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