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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

State should regulate wind farm siting

A letter to the editor by James E. Becher, Norwalk, in the La Crosse Tribune on June 2, 2009:

The situation here at Ridgeville, town of Wilton, Monroe County Wis., is a prime example why the state needs to overrule these unrealistic ordinances with normal setbacks (500 feet property line dwelling to 1,000 feet, no greater) allowing a wind farm here in Monroe County.

(Aren’t we fortunate the NIMBYs weren’t here when the power lines came through? With greater setbacks, we may not have electricity.)

Recent polls in a local newspaper resulted in about 85 percent in Monroe County favoring wind power. That makes only 15 percent against it.

In 2005, about 45 landowners signed easements with Invenergy LLC, a reputable wind company, looking forward to construction in 2006. A committee drew up an ordinance approved by the state, county, towns, landowners and wind company — no problems.

Then the anti-wind group (NIMBYs) formed, holding many “mis-informational” meetings, hiring six lawyers, plus many speakers with negative, fictional stories — sending DVDs, pictures, propaganda, etc. to every household in Monroe County and beyond, pestering people until their resistance wore them down, persuading them to join the group.

Some were elected to our town boards to veto the approved ordinance, halting construction, then drawing up their own restrictive ordinance, preventing all wind farms from ever coming in here, ruining our wind farm business, income and taking away our landowner rights.

Prime examples why proper-normal setbacks are so important: calculating normal setbacks means 1 turbine per 40-acre plot; calculating greater setback requires four 40-acre plots, leaving very few landowners eligible.

We commend Sen. Jeff Plale and Rep. Jim Soletski and the other legislators co-sponsoring the two bills to bring statewide wind siting to Wisconsin, helping the energy crisis.

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