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Friday, July 3, 2009

Before the wind

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin needs more wind-powered energy, and it should do what it can to encourage the growth of wind power. That should include the adoption of uniform statewide siting rules for large wind farms, as proposed in legislation sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee).

But municipalities such as Menomonee Falls are smart to move forward with their own rules governing the erection of a wind turbine in someone's back yard to reduce energy costs. Local officials need to address the regulatory issue to give guidance to residents as interest in wind power grows.

In a Monday article, Journal Sentinel reporter Lisa Sink noted that Menomonee Falls village employees began researching the question after a local resident expressed interest in installing a small wind turbine in his yard. Staff could offer little guidance because the village does not have specific regulations on wind turbines.

Nor is Menomonee Falls alone. Staff found no ordinances in the Milwaukee area but reviewed about 10 from other parts of the state, mainly where major commercial wind farms have been built or are planned for construction.

Kelly Lang, marketing manager for Focus on Energy's renewable energy program, told Sink that interest in smaller systems is growing. The program has assisted more than 50 small wind turbine installations across the state, with more than 15 to be added by the end of the year and others planned for 2010, she said. About 10 have been installed in southeastern Wisconsin, including two in Mequon.

So communities need to start thinking about what they want.

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