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Monday, April 27, 2009

Wind farm generates debate

From an article by Joe Knight in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:

Wisconsin has a goal of producing 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.

If the state wants to meet that goal, most of that renewable energy will have to come from the wind, says Ryan Schryver of the environmental group Clean Wisconsin.

However, environmental and industry groups say a patchwork of local wind ordinances, including one in Trempealeau County, has stymied wind energy development in many cases.

More than 600 megawatts of planned wind developments are stalled across Wisconsin because of new ordinances or changes in local rules, Schryver said. One megawatt is enough to power 800 to 1,000 homes.

Three relatively large wind farm developments have gone up in southeastern Wisconsin over the past two years.

Wisconsin spends about $22 billion a year importing energy, including what is used in transportation, according to the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence, another strong argument for local wind energy, environmentalists note.

A bill to set statewide standards for siting wind generators is being considered by the Legislature. Among the standards to be considered would be how far a wind generator has to be set back from property lines, roads and houses and how much noise they could make.

The current version of the bill also would create a process for appealing wind energy decisions by local governments to the Public Service Commission. Under Wisconsin law, the commission regulates the largest wind farms, those of 100 or more megawatts, or farms with about 60 or more towers.

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