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Friday, January 14, 2011

Plan for lakefront wind turbine stirs debate

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

More than 160 people got their first glimpse Thursday of what a city wind turbine development near the Port of Milwaukee would look like.

A packed house at the South Shore Park Pavilion took a look at the renderings. Some asked questions about the project, its cost, and the noise the turbines would generate, among other concerns.

The city's Office of Environmental Sustainability is proposing the project to make a statement in support of renewable energy and to tap greener sources of electricity for the Port of Milwaukee's administration building.

The turbines would be either 115 or 156 feet tall, depending on the model selected. That's less than half as tall as the utility-scale turbines built in recent years by We Energies and Invenergy in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties.

Ken Szallai, president of the Lake Express Ferry, said the city should consider making a broader statement toward sustainability that could incorporate solar power and informational exhibits, potentially at the Lake Express terminal that the city owns.

He said he shares concerns about how noisy the turbines would be, and is worried that the turbines could harm migratory birds.

"This is one of the premier places in the state to look at waterfowl and other migratory birds," he said.

Residents at the meeting were mixed in their views. Some raised questions about whether the project is a worthwhile use of taxpayer money. The maximum project cost, $400,000, would be financed through a federal renewable-energy and energy-efficiency grant.

But that's still taxpayer money, said Sharon Murphy, a 25-year resident of Bay View Terrace.

"That grant is a federal grant," she said. "It's our money!"

Bay View resident Dianne Sinnwell prompted cheers when she said she favored the plan. "We have an opportunity to be a leader in environmental clean energy, and we ought to take advantage of this opportunity," she said.

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