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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Somerset business owner submits testimony on Walker's wind siting proposal

John Backus, owner of St Croix Valley Sustainability Solutions LLC, Somerset, submitted the following testimony during a public hearing of the Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules on February 9, 2011:

Committee Members,
To start, let me thank the committee for entertaining my testimony as it relates to the committees consideration of Uniform Wind Siting Rules in Wisconsin. If not for a wind conference in the state of Illinois, coupled with business meetings related to wind projects, I would be meeting with you today. Assuming the business climate in Wisconsin is supportive of renewable energy development I hope to expand my business in Wisconsin by partnering with a third party turbine supplier to expand the scope of renewable energy options available to Wisconsin: homeowners, commercial businesses, agricultural operations, and educational entities.

Outside of ready capital no single hurdle is greater for my business then the uncertainty related to the myriad of zoning rules and regulations that are currently promulgated by different cities and counties across the state of Wisconsin. In 2009 I welcomed Wisconsin Act 40 knowing full well the benefits of certainty in how wind energy systems, both large and small, could be installed in this state. I also welcomed accountabilities that would require, among other things, that non-functional, or abandoned wind energy systems, would be taken down in a timely fashion.

While it is certain that the PSC rules do not meet all of my expectations they are none-the-less a carefully considered balance of concerns, needs, and requirements. The PSC advisory board represented a broad array of interests and provided ample opportunity for public comment. To stop the implementation of the March 1, 2011 PSC Uniform Wind Siting Rules would damage my business interests, and no doubt the business interests of many others in this state. As I see this decision, the committee is presented with an opportunity to promote: private capital expenditures, job creation, and stability in an economy that is not expanding fast enough for the average Wisconsin worker.

Assuming the adoption of the PSC Uniform Wind Siting Rules, the benefits to this state are significant. First, the rules will reward the risk taking entrepreneurs in Wisconsin that are only asking for certainty in opportunity. Second, wind energy in this state is too valuable a natural resource to not be tapped in a responsible and transparent fashion. Third, now is the time for Wisconsin’s legislative leaders to demonstrate that they will create, through their actions, a business climate in Wisconsin that is Open for “All” Businesses. In closing, I ask that the committee allow implementation of the PSC Uniform Wind Siting Rules on March 1, 2011.

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