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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

State senate panel passes wind siting reform bill

A story by Shawn Johnson of Wisconsin Public Radio and posted on KQDS-TV:

MADISON (WPR) A state senate panel is scheduled to vote Tuesday (8/4) on a plan that would establish statewide standards for siting wind farms in Wisconsin.

One of the most sensitive questions this plan would ultimately address is how close to peoples homes wind turbines can be built. The plan would leave it up to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to decide that setback. In the past, the PSC has settled on a 1,000-ft. barrier.

But some rural residents who live near the turbines say that's too close. Lynda Barry, head of the group "Better Plan, Wisconsin" says when turbines are only a thousand feet from a home, the noise they create keeps people from sleeping and the strobing shadow they cast drive people away from their windows. She says it would be wrong to ignore the health and safety aspects in the plan.

Barry cites a Minnesota Department of Public Health report, that suggests noise and shadow issues generally go away when turbines are a half mile from homes.

But the bill has widespread support from business, farm, labor groups, and several environmental groups as well. Ed Blume with Renew Wisconsin says it's a necessary step to end the “hodge podge” of local regulations that have restricted wind development. He says in the long-term, it’ll mean cleaner air and economic development for the state. Blume says noise issues have been overblown by wind farm opponents, and the shadow flicker cast by these turbines can be solved by closing blinds or planting trees in front of windows.

On Tuesday, August 4, the senate committee voted 6 to 1 to recommend passage of the bill.

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