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Monday, January 17, 2011

Wind turbines: Governor transforms into intrusive regulator

From an editorial in The Tomah Journal:

Perhaps it’s Gov. Scott Walker’s goal to have 99 percent of Wisconsin’s energy come from fossil fuels by 2020.

How else to explain his push to effectively ban wind turbines in Wisconsin?

A governor who said job creation is his top priority couldn’t wait two weeks into his new administration before putting the kibosh on the state’s wind energy business.

Walker’s proposal would mandate minimum setbacks of 1,800 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line. That compares with a setback distance of 1,250 feet from a neighboring residence approved by the Public Service Commission in a rule adopted last year.

How draconian are Walker’s proposed rules?

“There are very few locations in the entire Badger State that could overcome such extreme constraints,” said Michael Vickerman of Renew Wisconsin. “You can count the locations on the fingers of one hand.”

Walker’s proposal is wrong on multiple levels.

*Renewable energy. Like it or not, fossil fuels are a finite resource, but Walker has shown an almost mindless hostility toward alternative energy and alternative transportation. It doesn’t take a tree hugger to question that hostility. Wisconsin has no fossil fuel resources of its own, and every BTU generated by oil and coal represents dollars that leave the state.

*Jobs. It takes labor to manufacture, build and maintain wind turbines. The same governor who killed a big chunk of the passenger train industry in Wisconsin is poised to terminate the wind turbine industry.

*Private property rights. The same governor who can’t wait to allow developers to fill wetlands suddenly transforms into the great regulator when it comes to contracts between private property owners and wind turbine companies.

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