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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wind Siting Reform Gains Strong Bipartisan Committee Vote

Date: June 17, 2009
Contact: Noah Seligman, 608-215-9370

The Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities passes AB 256, wind siting reform, on a 10-2 vote The 12-member Assembly Committee on Energy & Utilities voted 10-2 to advance AB 256 (Senate companion SB 185), wind siting reform, to the full Assembly. The vote was bipartisan, with six Democrats and four Republicans on the committee voting in favor of the bill. Wind siting reform has 20 cosponsors in the Assembly and 11 in the Senate, with support from both parties.

A substitute amendment was added on an 11-1 vote that would require the PSC to hold two public hearings outside of Dane County as part of its rule-making. The amendment also provided additional wildlife protections, technical changes, and inclusion of Smart Growth planning in regulating wind energy projects.

“The bipartisan committee approval demonstrates strong consensus on the need for wind siting reform,” said Curt Pawlisch, spokesman for Wind for Wisconsin. “Wind siting reform will be an engine for economic activity in Wisconsin, attract new investment opportunities, and support current state energy policy.”

SB 185/AB 256 directs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to initiate an administrative rule-making process to establish statewide siting standards for wind energy projects. The PSC is an independent regulatory agency dedicated to serving the public interest. The bill draft requires the PSC to establish an advisory committee of diverse interests to advise the Commission on the rules. The legislature will have the opportunity to review the proposed rules prior to their publication.

Wind for Wisconsin is optimistic that a floor vote in the Assembly would garner the same strong bipartisan support demonstrated in committee and among cosponsors.
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