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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hearing on wind farm siting draws crowd

From an article by Colleen Kottke in the Fond du Lac Reporter:

They came from near and far, packing Legislative Chambers at the City County Government Center in Fond du Lac Monday to voice their opinions about proposed wind farm siting rules to be crafted by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The proposed rules would ultimately result in uniform wind farm siting standards for local units of government, replacing a patchwork of different rules and moratoriums that have been imposed by counties and towns around the state in relation to small wind power projects.

The public hearings, scheduled around the state this week, were launched by the state Legislature after it passed a uniform siting law in October.

Using citizen input, the PSC will draft legislation touching on controversial issues such as maximum sound levels and setback requirements. Once passed, municipalities considering ordinances for wind farms would not be allowed to make their local ordinance more restrictive than the state model. . . .

"Right now the proposed rules are just a draft; that's why the public comments are very important. There are a lot of interested parties and we want to make sure this is a balanced process," said Deborah Erwin, renewable energy policy analyst for the PSC.

Energy slacker
Barnaby Dinges, owner of a public relations firm and member of the American Wind Energy Association, warned that more restrictive rules for siting wind farms would further harm the state's quest to build its alternative energy portfolio.

"Wisconsin is already an energy slacker. We're the only Midwest state that doesn't currently have a major wind energy project under construction," Dinges said. "New restrictions will make the state even less desirable for development of wind projects."

He pointed out that the Wisconsin PSC already has a rigorous wind farm approval process in place for wind farms over 100 mega watts.

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