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Monday, January 24, 2011

War on Wind: Land use fight, not energy fight

From an article by Kari Lydersen in Midwest Energy News:

One of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s first actions in office was to declare the state “Open for Business,” vowing to lure industry and create a quarter-million jobs.

But legislation Walker proposed as part of this initiative could strangle a growing state industry – wind power – with a stringent siting rule likely to make major future development nearly impossible.

Why would a pro-business governor support a plan that wind experts say would likely shoot down 11 proposed projects representing a $1.8 billion investment?

Wind developers and advocates say it is because of the influence of the state’s powerful real estate industry, whose leaders say wind turbines significantly decrease property values and prevent agricultural and open land from being transformed into residential
developments . . . .

Wisconsin Realtors Association chief lobbyist Tom Larson said Realtors were “definitely” the driving force behind the wind siting portion of Walker’s bill. He and other prominent Realtors also lobbied against the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s new wind siting rule, set to take effect March 1, which created uniform statewide standards, including a setback of 1,250 feet from homes. . . .

“This is more of a land use fight than an energy fight,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin and a member of the state’s wind siting council. “The Realtors are afraid wind generation will slow down the conversion of agricultural land to residential land. They’re trying to drive a stake through the heart of wind development before the next project is permitted.”

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