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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New wind siting rules could speed wind project in southwestern Wisconsin

From an article by Craig D. Reber in The Herald, Dubuque, Iowa:

A wind-siting rule that took effect in Wisconsin on Jan. 1* could open the door to wind farms in southwest Wisconsin.

The rule provides a path for obtaining a permit to build a wind farm -- as long as the project developers abide by the guidelines established by the state Public Service Commission. If a township or other municipality opts to regulate a wind-energy power system, its

ordinances can't be more restrictive than the PSC's rules.

Basically, the PSC's rules trump any local ordinances.

In southwest Wisconsin, the new rule could pave the way for the development of the proposed White Oak wind project by Wind Capital Group that includes parts of Smel-ser, Hazel Green and Paris townships. The project has been on hold for more than two years.

"We believe that passage of the PSC's rule will certainly set the conditions in place that make development of wind facilities much more possible in Wisconsin," said Tom Green, Wind Capital senior manager of project development. "In reviewing the new rule and applying those rules to their plans for White Oak, they will have a better idea moving into Advertisement

the future of the viability of the project."

Ron Brisbois, Grant County Economic Development director, said the new law will allow communities to plan and give wind developers the freedom to create wind-farm strategies.

"That was what everybody was waiting on," Brisbois said of the White Oak project and another in northern Grant County. "This should allow them to move forward to secure financing and implement the design of the full layout of where the turbines will go."

"It's important," said Joe Alt, of rural Cuba City and a participant in the White Oak project, discussing the new rule. "It's definitely going to help get a wind farm going."

* At the time the reporter wrote the story, January 1 appeared to be the effective date of the new rules. However, simple logistical delays in officially publishing the rule push the effective date to March 1.

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