Search This Blog

Monday, January 31, 2011

"Pants on Fire!" says Truth-o-Meter to health problems from turbine shadow flicker

From an article on Political Fact Check:

To some, spinning wind turbines are a majestic source of pollution-free energy. But when they're proposed for residential areas, opponents often portray them as a menace to healthy, safety, aesthetics and property values.

The rhetoric can get pretty extreme.

When one was proposed in Barrington in 2008, opponents claimed that unnamed "independent medical experts" had found that turbines can cause everything from headaches to heart problems, and that sunlight flashing through the blades can produce a stroboscopic effect that may lead to nausea, dizziness, disorientation and seizures.

So when a massive 427-foot turbine was proposed for Stamp Farm on Route 2 in North Kingstown, it wasn't surprising that the opposition would echo those claims. One opponent was state Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt of North Kingstown. He co-authored an opinion column published in The Providence Journal with former North Kingstown Town Council President Edward Cooney.

For one of their bullet points, they played the epilepsy card: "The health risk of 'flicker' impact created by shadows of blades of turbines poses real and significant health risks, particularly seizures. . . ."

We contacted two epilepsy experts who said the concern was ridiculous because it was so unlikely.

David Mandelbaum, a neurologist and pediatrician at Brown University's Alpert Medical School, said even if an epileptic is sensitive to light, the flicker has to be at just the right frequency, and that frequency can vary widely from person to person.

Dr. Gregory Kent Bergey, director of the epilepsy center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in an email: "The fact is, the great majority of people with seizures [probably greater than 95 percent] do not have this photosensitivity." Some patients may experience a brief spasm if they see the sun coming through the trees, "but these seizures are usually readily controlled by medication. I do not tell these patients not to drive in the forest!"

He said "the risk from sun coming through a wind turbine would be very small -- the person would first have to be looking at the sun, not just at a turbine, and most of us know not to look at the sun directly. . . . We cannot use this as a reason not to erect wind turbine farms."

Mandelbaum said he has never seen any reliable documentation that turbines can cause seizures, or any other health problems. "They're using the epileptic community. It's clever and it's nonsense, and I find it personally offensive," he said.

"Pants on Fire!" says Truth-o-Meter to health problems from turbine shadow flicker

From an article on Political Fact Check:

To some, spinning wind turbines are a majestic source of pollution-free energy. But when they're proposed for residential areas, opponents often portray them as a menace to healthy, safety, aesthetics and property values.

The rhetoric can get pretty extreme.

When one was proposed in Barrington in 2008, opponents claimed that unnamed "independent medical experts" had found that turbines can cause everything from headaches to heart problems, and that sunlight flashing through the blades can produce a stroboscopic effect that may lead to nausea, dizziness, disorientation and seizures.

So when a massive 427-foot turbine was proposed for Stamp Farm on Route 2 in North Kingstown, it wasn't surprising that the opposition would echo those claims. One opponent was state Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt of North Kingstown. He co-authored an opinion column published in The Providence Journal with former North Kingstown Town Council President Edward Cooney.

For one of their bullet points, they played the epilepsy card: "The health risk of 'flicker' impact created by shadows of blades of turbines poses real and significant health risks, particularly seizures. . . ."

We contacted two epilepsy experts who said the concern was ridiculous because it was so unlikely.

David Mandelbaum, a neurologist and pediatrician at Brown University's Alpert Medical School, said even if an epileptic is sensitive to light, the flicker has to be at just the right frequency, and that frequency can vary widely from person to person.

Dr. Gregory Kent Bergey, director of the epilepsy center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in an email: "The fact is, the great majority of people with seizures [probably greater than 95 percent] do not have this photosensitivity." Some patients may experience a brief spasm if they see the sun coming through the trees, "but these seizures are usually readily controlled by medication. I do not tell these patients not to drive in the forest!"

He said "the risk from sun coming through a wind turbine would be very small -- the person would first have to be looking at the sun, not just at a turbine, and most of us know not to look at the sun directly. . . . We cannot use this as a reason not to erect wind turbine farms."

Mandelbaum said he has never seen any reliable documentation that turbines can cause seizures, or any other health problems. "They're using the epileptic community. It's clever and it's nonsense, and I find it personally offensive," he said.

"Pants on Fire!" says Truth-o-Meter to health problems from turbine shadow flicker

From an article on Political Fact Check:

To some, spinning wind turbines are a majestic source of pollution-free energy. But when they're proposed for residential areas, opponents often portray them as a menace to healthy, safety, aesthetics and property values.

The rhetoric can get pretty extreme.

When one was proposed in Barrington in 2008, opponents claimed that unnamed "independent medical experts" had found that turbines can cause everything from headaches to heart problems, and that sunlight flashing through the blades can produce a stroboscopic effect that may lead to nausea, dizziness, disorientation and seizures.

So when a massive 427-foot turbine was proposed for Stamp Farm on Route 2 in North Kingstown, it wasn't surprising that the opposition would echo those claims. One opponent was state Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt of North Kingstown. He co-authored an opinion column published in The Providence Journal with former North Kingstown Town Council President Edward Cooney.

For one of their bullet points, they played the epilepsy card: "The health risk of 'flicker' impact created by shadows of blades of turbines poses real and significant health risks, particularly seizures. . . ."

We contacted two epilepsy experts who said the concern was ridiculous because it was so unlikely.

David Mandelbaum, a neurologist and pediatrician at Brown University's Alpert Medical School, said even if an epileptic is sensitive to light, the flicker has to be at just the right frequency, and that frequency can vary widely from person to person.

Dr. Gregory Kent Bergey, director of the epilepsy center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in an email: "The fact is, the great majority of people with seizures [probably greater than 95 percent] do not have this photosensitivity." Some patients may experience a brief spasm if they see the sun coming through the trees, "but these seizures are usually readily controlled by medication. I do not tell these patients not to drive in the forest!"

He said "the risk from sun coming through a wind turbine would be very small -- the person would first have to be looking at the sun, not just at a turbine, and most of us know not to look at the sun directly. . . . We cannot use this as a reason not to erect wind turbine farms."

Mandelbaum said he has never seen any reliable documentation that turbines can cause seizures, or any other health problems. "They're using the epileptic community. It's clever and it's nonsense, and I find it personally offensive," he said.

Comments of RENEW on the draft Strategic Energy Assessment, January 28, 2010

BEFORE THE
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN
Strategic Energy Assessment for the Years
January 1, 2010 through December 31
2016 Docket No. 05-ES-105
COMMENTS OF RENEW WISCONSIN ON THE DRAFT STRATEGIC ENERGY ASSESSMENT
_________________________________________________

RENEW Wisconsin submits these comments on the Commission’s draft Strategic Energy Assessment (SEA) 2016. RENEW’s comments focus on the “Electric Demand and Supply Conditions in Wisconsin” section.

The draft SEA notes that, in 2008, 67% of the energy produced in Wisconsin was generated by coal-fired power plants; 8% by natural gas; and 2% by biomass. Draft SEA, p. 18. Collectively, these units supplied 77% of the energy produced in Wisconsin. With the addition of the two new coal-fired generating units at the Elm Road Generation Station in 2010 and 2011, Wisconsin’s percentage of coal-fired generation has increased even more.

Fuel for all of these types of generating units comes at a cost, both the cost of the fuel itself and the cost to transport it to a generating station. Because coal makes up such a significant portion of the energy generated in Wisconsin and because it is not available in Wisconsin, its costs are particularly important. For years, the assumption has been that coal is cheap and abundant. Even the draft SEA notes that “Coal has historically been an abundant and inexpensive fuel for electric generation.” Draft SEA, p. 46. However, the ability to extract high quality coal and the cost to transport it to Wisconsin have been steadily increasing, calling into question the “abundant and cheap” mantra.

Most of the coal that fuels Wisconsin’s power plants comes from the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming. That region supplies coal to many of the largest coal plants in Wisconsin’s generating fleet--Columbia, Pleasant Prairie, Weston, Oak Creek, J.P. Madgett, Edgewater, and others. The contribution from other coal fields, such as those in the North Appalachian and Colorado regions, is small by comparison to the voluminous flow of low-sulfur subbituminous coal coming out of such mines as Black Thunder, Jacobs Ranch, Cordero Rojo, Antelope, and North Antelope Rochelle. The coal extracted from these mines is transported to power plants 1,000 miles away in Wisconsin on unit trains with as many as 130 cars.
Data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) document the steadily rising cost of coal imported to Wisconsin over the past 10 years. In 1999, the average cost of coal delivered to Wisconsin electric utilities was $1.02/MMBtu (Table 34, Electric Power Monthly (EPM), March 2001). By 2004, the average cost had risen to $1.18/MMBtu (Table 4.10B, EPM, April 2005). The cost increase over the next five years was more pronounced, rising to $2.02/MMBtu (Table 4.10B, EPM, March 2010). The cost escalation between 1999 and 2009 corresponds to annual increases of 7%.

Increases in the cost of diesel fuel account for a significant portion of coal’s price rise. Spiking dramatically in mid-2008, diesel prices slumped 40% in 2009 but have since mid-2010 retraced a significant part of that decline, and are now comparable to where they were in early 2008.

Another driver behind rising coal prices is the increased cost of resource extraction. From 2000 to 2010, spot market prices of PRB coal rose from about $4 per ton to $14 per ton. Rising prices reflect increases in the “stripping ratio ,” a key measure of ore quality, encountered by mine operators. The stripping ratio indicates the number of tons of rock that must be moved to obtain a ton of coal. It is prudent to expect the stripping ratio of PBR coal to increase as the largest and most accessible mines become played out and mine operators shift to newer mines with deeper overburdens and thinner coal seams.

(http://www.cleanenergyaction.org/sites/default/files/Coal_Supply_Constraints_CEA_021209.pdf, p. 47.)
For example, the average overburden on the existing Antelope Mine is 122 feet thick and the coal seam is 86 feet thick. Antelope’s operator has applied to expand the coal mine to the west. While there is plenty of recoverable coal at Antelope II, it will be less productive than the original mine, because of the combination of thinner coal seams (50-60 feet thick) and average overburden depths (260 to 280 feet). Thus, the stripping ratio of Antelope II will be significantly higher, as will production costs.
(http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/content/wy/en/info/NEPA/documents/cfo/West_Antelope_II.html)

It’s worth pointing out that the U.S. coal market does not operate in isolation of overseas trends and events, which lately have been propelling coal costs higher. One well-reported trend is increasing demand from China, which has moved from an exporter to an importer of coal. The New York Times (NYT) reported in November 2009 that the volume of Chinese coal imports will hit all-time highs going into 2011. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/business/energy-environment/30utilities.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=breaking%20away%20from%20coal&st=cse)
The catastrophic flooding in northeast Australia earlier this month is certain to apply upward pressure on coal prices globally. Torrential rains incapacitated 75% of the operating coal mines in Queensland, the world’s largest coal-producing region. Much of the coal there is exported to other Asian markets. It will take many months if not years to dewater the mines and restore them to active operation. Though Queensland’s mines supply coking coal for the most part, the damage inflicted to the mines, roads, railways and bridges will ripple through the thermal coal markets as well and lift prices in that sector. (http://www.energydigital.com/sectors/mining-and-aggregates/queensland-flooding-washes-away-millions-coal-revenue

In addition, electric utilities have not been able to lock in low cost coal prices over long-term contracts. A review of recent coal shipments to Wisconsin power stations reveals that most supply contracts will expire between now and January 2013. (EIA-423 available at http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/page/eia423.html)
The emergence of shorter-term contracts, coupled with the increasing tendency among Wisconsin utilities to rely on the spot market, increases the exposure of ratepayers to rising coal prices caused by (1) higher diesel fuel prices, (2) increased coal exports from North America to China, (3) the ongoing transition to lower-quality domestic coal sources, and (4) natural disasters and other perturbations in global supplies.
It should be noted that the current glut of generating capacity provides no insulation against rising fuel prices. The coal still has to be mined, loaded into unit cars, and transported across the Great Plains and the Mississippi River to reach Wisconsin generating units. Even if utility demand for coal diminishes incrementally during the planning period, whatever moderating effects that trend would induce are likely to be dwarfed by global factors, not least of which is Asia’s ravenous demand for coal, which domestic coal companies such as Peabody will be only too happy to feed.

With these challenges looming in plain sight, it will take a minor miracle to keep coal prices from rising above the 7% annualized rate of the previous 10 years.

Given the degree to which Wisconsin utilities are reliant on PBR coal supplies, RENEW recommends that the PSC track and monitor the emerging supply and cost issues associated with that resource. In their comments on the draft SEA, Citizens Utility Board and Clean Wisconsin recommend that the SEA include historic annual average fuel costs for all combustible fuels (including coal) and a projected annual average fuel cost for each year (including coal) for each year during the SEA period. RENEW supports that recommendation.

RENEW appreciates the opportunity to provide the Commission with these comments and recommendations. RENEW continues to believe in the wisdom of comprehensive long range planning of demand, supply and transmission resources to best meet Wisconsin’s electricity needs while balancing cost, reliability, environmental, risk and other factors.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Coalition discredits realtors’ wind assessment

A news release issued by the Wisconsin Energy Business Association:

A group of over 60 Wisconsin energy businesses and organizations distributed a memorandum to legislators today to respond to the factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations in a memorandum distributed by the Wisconsin Realtors Association last week, including the following points:
1. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values in Kewaunee County.
2. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values statewide.
3. The property value study cited by WRA contains several methodological errors and weaknesses that greatly reduce its value.
4. WRA’s discussion of windpower’s impacts on commercial and residential construction is wholly one-sided and overlooks the benefits from building energy-producing systems on rural land.
5. WRA’s characterization of the rule’s promulgation is inflammatory and untrue.
6. A longer setback distance is not necessary given PSC 128’s strict regulation of sound and shadow.

Coalition discredits realtors’ wind assessment

A news release issued by the Wisconsin Energy Business Association:

A group of over 60 Wisconsin energy businesses and organizations distributed a memorandum to legislators today to respond to the factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations in a memorandum distributed by the Wisconsin Realtors Association last week, including the following points:
1. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values in Kewaunee County.
2. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values statewide.
3. The property value study cited by WRA contains several methodological errors and weaknesses that greatly reduce its value.
4. WRA’s discussion of windpower’s impacts on commercial and residential construction is wholly one-sided and overlooks the benefits from building energy-producing systems on rural land.
5. WRA’s characterization of the rule’s promulgation is inflammatory and untrue.
6. A longer setback distance is not necessary given PSC 128’s strict regulation of sound and shadow.

Coalition discredits realtors’ wind assessment

A news release issued by the Wisconsin Energy Business Association:

A group of over 60 Wisconsin energy businesses and organizations distributed a memorandum to legislators today to respond to the factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations in a memorandum distributed by the Wisconsin Realtors Association last week, including the following points:
1. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values in Kewaunee County.
2. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values statewide.
3. The property value study cited by WRA contains several methodological errors and weaknesses that greatly reduce its value.
4. WRA’s discussion of windpower’s impacts on commercial and residential construction is wholly one-sided and overlooks the benefits from building energy-producing systems on rural land.
5. WRA’s characterization of the rule’s promulgation is inflammatory and untrue.
6. A longer setback distance is not necessary given PSC 128’s strict regulation of sound and shadow.

Coalition discredits realtors’ wind assessment

A news release issued by the Wisconsin Energy Business Association:

A group of over 60 Wisconsin energy businesses and organizations distributed a memorandum to legislators today to respond to the factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations in a memorandum distributed by the Wisconsin Realtors Association last week, including the following points:
1. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values in Kewaunee County.
2. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values statewide.
3. The property value study cited by WRA contains several methodological errors and weaknesses that greatly reduce its value.
4. WRA’s discussion of windpower’s impacts on commercial and residential construction is wholly one-sided and overlooks the benefits from building energy-producing systems on rural land.
5. WRA’s characterization of the rule’s promulgation is inflammatory and untrue.
6. A longer setback distance is not necessary given PSC 128’s strict regulation of sound and shadow.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Solar panel firm considering Eau Claire could bring 600 jobs

From an article by Liam Marlaire in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:

A solar panel company's move to Wisconsin could create hundreds of jobs in Eau Claire.

Chatsworth, Calif.-based W Solar Group is in the process of moving its headquarters and research-and-development operations to Dane County, and contenders for a manufacturing plant include Eau Claire and Wausau.

More about Wausau possibility.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Obama visits Broadwind Energy to see clean energy job creation and innovation in action

From a news release issued by Broadwind Energy and posted on Business Wire:

MANITOWOC, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--President Barack Obama underscored key themes from his State of the Union speech of job creation, innovation and global competitiveness when he visited Broadwind Energy, Inc.’s (NASDAQ: BWEN) wind turbine tower manufacturing facility today in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Broadwind Energy and its more than 800 employees are playing a critical role in powering up the clean energy industry, stimulating local economies like Manitowoc and driving innovation in the U.S.—innovation the President is calling for to maintain our global leadership position.

“President Obama is essentially asking the same of our country—bring together all of our best talents and solutions and help our country and other countries maximize their energy potential—sustainably, cleanly and profitably.”

Once a manufacturing plant for World War II-era submarines, the 250,000 square foot facility the President toured this afternoon was revitalized by Broadwind Towers (Tower Tech), stimulating the local economy through the hiring of 300 people. The company has become one of the largest employers in Manitowoc, is a leading producer of multi-megawatt (MW) wind turbine towers and is the first company in the U.S. to manufacture 100-meter towers. Currently the Manitowoc facility is running at near capacity and when combined with its tower manufacturing facilities in Abilene, Texas, and Brandon, South Dakota, Broadwind Towers has the potential to produce up to 1,500 MWs of wind turbine towers annually. Manitowoc is a great example of a U.S. community rebounding from economic hardship by applying existing talent to new problems, in this case tapping deep roots in steel fabrication to create the tall steel towers that enable wind turbines to capture maximum wind energy.

During the visit, President Obama was able to see how a wind turbine tower is manufactured - from raw plate steel through the process of forming, welding, painting and moving a completed tower section, which could weigh up to 200 tons. Broadwind Energy President and CEO Peter C. Duprey, Broadwind Towers President Paul Smith and plant manager Chris Wallander led the President through the facility where he stopped several times to talk with employees.

Obama visits Broadwind Energy to see clean energy job creation and innovation in action

From a news release issued by Broadwind Energy and posted on Business Wire:

MANITOWOC, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--President Barack Obama underscored key themes from his State of the Union speech of job creation, innovation and global competitiveness when he visited Broadwind Energy, Inc.’s (NASDAQ: BWEN) wind turbine tower manufacturing facility today in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Broadwind Energy and its more than 800 employees are playing a critical role in powering up the clean energy industry, stimulating local economies like Manitowoc and driving innovation in the U.S.—innovation the President is calling for to maintain our global leadership position.

“President Obama is essentially asking the same of our country—bring together all of our best talents and solutions and help our country and other countries maximize their energy potential—sustainably, cleanly and profitably.”

Once a manufacturing plant for World War II-era submarines, the 250,000 square foot facility the President toured this afternoon was revitalized by Broadwind Towers (Tower Tech), stimulating the local economy through the hiring of 300 people. The company has become one of the largest employers in Manitowoc, is a leading producer of multi-megawatt (MW) wind turbine towers and is the first company in the U.S. to manufacture 100-meter towers. Currently the Manitowoc facility is running at near capacity and when combined with its tower manufacturing facilities in Abilene, Texas, and Brandon, South Dakota, Broadwind Towers has the potential to produce up to 1,500 MWs of wind turbine towers annually. Manitowoc is a great example of a U.S. community rebounding from economic hardship by applying existing talent to new problems, in this case tapping deep roots in steel fabrication to create the tall steel towers that enable wind turbines to capture maximum wind energy.

During the visit, President Obama was able to see how a wind turbine tower is manufactured - from raw plate steel through the process of forming, welding, painting and moving a completed tower section, which could weigh up to 200 tons. Broadwind Energy President and CEO Peter C. Duprey, Broadwind Towers President Paul Smith and plant manager Chris Wallander led the President through the facility where he stopped several times to talk with employees.

Rep. Shilling applauds Obama's support of clean energy projects

From a news release issued by Rep. Jennifer Shilling:

Encourages Gov. Walker to re-evaluate restrictive wind energy rules

MADISON – President Barack Obama will visit Wisconsin today to tour Orion Energy Systems, a Manitowoc-based clean energy manufacturing company. In his State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted the ongoing need for investments in clean energy development and called for 80% of America's electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035. The visit today is part of the President’s White House to Main Street Tour in which he has met with families and workers regarding the importance of long-term economic competitiveness.

“I am glad that President Obama is highlighting the importance that our clean energy manufacturing industry will play in our nation’s economic recovery efforts,” said Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “If we want our state to be competitive on a national and international level, we need to invest in 21st century manufacturing and agricultural industries. Wisconsin has the potential to be a leader in clean energy manufacturing, but we need our government to be a partner rather than an obstacle to this growing industry.”

“While the President has stepped up his support for clean energy and high tech manufacturers, Governor Walker’s lack of foresight has already doomed several important economic projects in our state,” added Shilling. “While Walker has been busy bankrupting our state with corporate tax breaks, our manufacturing sector and workers continue to struggle. His crusade against clean energy and 21st century transportation has already claimed the high speed rail and Charter Street Biomass projects. With the newly proposed regulations on wind energy siting, it looks like the Cashton wind project is next in line to get the axe.”

Governor Walker has proposed new legislation (SS AB 9 & SS SB 9) that would dramatically increase the minimum setback distance for wind turbines in the state. These new regulations have been described as some of the most extreme and prohibitive requirements in the nation and would effectively ban new wind farms from being developed in Wisconsin.

“The Cashton wind energy project represents the type of forward-thinking energy policies that we should be encouraging,” stated Shilling. “By working collaboratively, Organic Valley, Gundersen Lutheran, and Western Technical College have created a model proposal for clean energy production in western Wisconsin. Unfortunately, this proposal and all of the local jobs it would have created will be left hanging in the wind if Scott Walker gets his way.”

Illinois seeks Wisconsin wind energy jobs, projects

From an article Kevin Lee in The Chippewa Herald:

MADISON — Wind energy developers are the latest businesses to be subject to the interstate struggle between Wisconsin and Illinois for jobs and economic development.

Last week, Gov. Scott Walker introduced a special session proposal that would tighten restrictions on where wind energy sites could be constructed.

Wisconsin wind energy supporters say the legislation could stall or even disrupt many of the 21 proposed wind projects that are at various stages of bidding and construction, said Michael Vicekrman with alternative energy advocacy group RENEW Wisconsin.

Vickerman warned that some of the companies running those projects could decide to move resources to neighboring states.

“The nexus shifts to Iowa and Minnesota and nothing happens here. Basically Wisconsin becomes a development-free zone,” he said.

Illinois Wind Association Executive Director Kevin Borgia has invited wind energy businesses to “Escape to Illinois,” a play on the “Escape to Wisconsin” appeal that Walker used earlier this month toward Illinois businesses.

“For all his attacks on Illinois being an unfriendly business climate, Gov. Walker goes out and proposes something that makes Wisconsin a wholly unfriendly business climate for (the wind energy) business,” Borgia said.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Landowners and municipalities to reap millions from wind farm operations for 2010

A news release issued by RENEW Wisconsin:

Owners of Wisconsin’s four largest wind energy projects will pay out approximately $2.8 million in rent to landowners hosting turbines and payments in lieu of taxes to local governments for 2010, according to figures compiled by RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.

Wind energy developers negotiate lease agreements with landowners to host turbines on their property. Payments can be as high as $7,000 per turbine per year. Estimated rental payments to all Fond du Lac and Dodge county landowners will total slightly more than $1.2 million in 2010.

Towns and counties do not collect property taxes from wind turbines but instead receive payments based on the generating capacity of each turbine, allocated under a formula adopted by the Legislature in 2003. Payments to those local governments will reach almost $1.6 million for 2010.

“These revenues help support farm families and rural Wisconsin communities.” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. “It’s a much better deal for the state than sending dollars go Wyoming and West Virginia for the coal imported to Wisconsin to generate electricity.”

Gary Haltaufderheide, an employee of Madison-based Land Services Company, which negotiates land leases for large projects, like pipelines and wind turbines, says, “Farmers are smart business people and they’re very satisfied with the payments. One farmer saw the lease as a way to cover tuition payments for a child entering college.”

Four wind projects – Forward, Blue Sky Green Field, Cedar Ridge, and Butler Ridge – account for the payments to host landowners and local governments. Together these projects comprise nearly 90 percent of Wisconsin’s wind generation fleet.

When calculated over a 20-year contract period, total revenues should exceed $60 million, taking inflation into account.

Shirley Wind, the state’s newest wind power installation, will contributed another $80,000 a year, divided equally between Brown County, Town of Glenmore, local landowners, and neighbors within one-third of a mile of a turbine. The eight-turbine, 20-megawatt project began producing electricity in 2010.

Click tables to enlarge.

Tapping into Wisconsin’s energy potential should be bipartisan goal

From an article by Tom Stills in Wisconsin Technology News:

MADISON - Unless someone strikes oil in Oshkosh, discovers natural gas in Necedah or mines coal in Colfax, the state of Wisconsin is destined to remain largely dependent - perhaps for decades - on outside sources of energy that power its homes, businesses and vehicles.

That economic dependency can be slowly but steadily reduced, however, if Wisconsin builds on its emerging expertise around development of new sources of energy.

Two recent news events sounded alarm bells for those who believe Wisconsin has the right combination of natural resources, research capacity and private sector know-how to begin charting a new energy future. In rapid order, Gov. Scott Walker introduced regulations that would make it harder to build wind-power projects in some parts of Wisconsin and he cancelled plans to convert a UW-Madison power plant from coal to biomass.

There may be logical reasons for the new administration's specific actions. Some people have complained that current state rules allow wind generators to be built too close to private property, and the conversion of the UW-Madison's Charter Street plant to burn switchgrass pellets was estimated to be $75 million more expensive than burning natural gas.

The larger danger is that Wisconsin could lose momentum around the development of much-needed energy technologies - advanced wind, next-generation biofuels, energy storage systems and much more - if the message is sent that energy and conservation innovation isn't welcome or valued.

New rules on wind farms will kill jobs

From an editorial in the Sheboygan Press:

If Gov. Scott Walker is all about creating jobs for Wisconsin residents, he will back off his support for new rules on wind farms.

Last year, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, in response to inconsistent siting rules adopted by individual communities, held hearings, reviewed scientific information and heard from health experts in an effort to come up with uniform standards sitting rules.

The PSC said the wind turbines, which generate electricity — and are responsible for hundreds of new jobs in Wisconsin already — must be located 1,250 feet from any residence and about 450 feet from property boundaries.

The PSC siting rules take into account the concerns of homeowners and are based on about 150 reports on medical and safety issues.

But new rules, which Walker backs, would put the setback from a residence at 1,800 feet — a distance that wind farm developers contend would drive them out of business and shut the door to this emerging technology and clean-energy process.

Keith Reopelle, the policy director for Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy group, said the rules Walker is backing will jeopardize nearly a dozen wind farm plans in the works.

Wausau vies for 600 solar jobs

From an article by Jake Miller in the Wausau Daily Herald:

A California-based energy company is interested in building a manufacturing plant in the Wausau area, adding about 600 jobs in a part of the economy that was especially hit hard by the recession.

W Solar Group, which will move its headquarters to Dane County this year, has narrowed its search for where to build its plant to several Wisconsin cities. A company spokesman said Wausau has several factors that make it appealing.

"It's a very good spot as it relates to a supply chain, geography, transportation," said Evan Zeppos, spokesman for W Solar Group. "It has a well-known reputation for having a good work force, and it's certainly very high on the quality-of-life scale."

W Solar has not finalized where it will build the manufacturing plant, and Zeppos declined to provide a list of cities Wausau is up against. Local officials, however, said Eau Claire is Wausau's biggest competition.
W Solar, founded in 2009 in Chatsworth, Calif., has an efficient technology that lets it produce solar panels on a large scale at a lower cost than its competitors.

If W Solar ultimately selects the Wausau area, the jobs could provide a huge boost to Marathon County's manufacturing sector, which has lost about 2,500 of its 17,700 jobs since December 2007, according to state data.

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.”

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.”

Illinois wind advocates advise Wisconsin's renewable energy developers to 'Escape to Illinois'

From a news release issued by The Illinois Wind Energy Association:

(CHICAGO) -- Today the Illinois Wind Energy Association (IWEA) invited wind power developers working in Wisconsin to focus their efforts on Illinois, where Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly have worked to streamline regulations for the wind energy business.

Wind developers have been apprehensive about investing in Wisconsin since Governor Scott Walker proposed legislation that would effectively ban wind development from the Badger State. With these new job-destroying regulations on the table, IWEA is happy to highlight the much more business-friendly climate just to the south.

Recently introduced in the Wisconsin legislature, the War on Wind Initiative would dramatically extend setback distances from wind turbines in the state. If adopted, the bill would mandate a minimum setback requirement of 1,800 feet from neighboring property lines, far exceeding the setback distance from occupied dwellings specified in a rule issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

"Even the strictest county setbacks in Illinois are nowhere near as extreme as what Wisconsin would have if this bill passes," said IWEA Executive Director Kevin Borgia. "Illinois has no statewide minimum setbacks."

As Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week, "it is one of the most onerous regulations we have ever seen."

"In light of Wisconsin's War on Wind, IWEA invites developers to focus their resources on Illinois," Borgia said. "Businesses with wind farm proposals in both states are likely to focus their efforts on locations with the most beneficial regulatory climate. If the legislation is adopted, that location will not be Wisconsin."

Survey shows strong support for wind energy in Grant County

In the fall of 2007, Grant County landowners received a survey conducted by The Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

Question 30 on the survey asked respondents if Grant County jurisdictions should pursue Ethanol Plants, Solar Energy or Wind Energy alternatives as a form of economic development.

Data compiled from those surveys shows overwhelming support for Wind and Solar Energy with marginal support for Ethanol. The proposed White Oak Wind Farm falls within Smelser Township, Cuba City, Hazel Green, Hazel Green Township and Dickeyville.

Grant County should pursue:
Ethanol
plants
Solar
energy
Wind
energy
Strongly agree 22%39% 48%
Agree33%45% 43%
Disagree 23%5% 2%
Strongly dis. 9%1% 2%
No opinion 13%10% 6%

Friday, January 21, 2011

Walker rejects biomass boiler for power plant

From an article by in The Chippewa Herald:

Gov. Scott Walker scrapped plans Thursday to convert a power plant to run on natural fuels such as wood chips and paper pellets, a move that could save up to $100 million but drew stern criticism from at least one environmental group.

The decision affects the Charter Street Heating Plant on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Its coal-fired burners will be retired next year and were to be replaced with two boilers that run on natural gas and a third that would burn biomass, state officials said.

However, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said only the natural-gas burners will be installed.

"We have decided not to proceed with the biomass boiler in order to save the state taxpayers money," he said in a statement. The savings would come from avoiding construction costs of about $100 million, he said. It was not clear whether the third planned boiler would be replaced or the two natural gas boilers would produce enough power on their own.

Jeff Plale, an administrator for the state Division of State Facilities, said Walker and Huebsch realized there were cheaper ways to meet the university's heating needs while still being environmentally friendly.

"Natural gas is a clean source of energy, certainly cleaner than coal," Plale said. "That plant is going to be a whole lot cleaner than it is today. Couple that with being able to save $100 million during a very difficult budget and I think the people of Wisconsin come out better."

In 2008, then-Gov. Jim Doyle announced that the plant would switch from coal to biomass in part to settle a Sierra Club lawsuit claiming that the plant violated air-pollution laws. Thursday's move does not risk reopening the lawsuit because the plant is still moving away from coal.

The decision to walk away from biomass shows a lack of long-term thinking, Sierra Club spokeswoman Jennifer Feyerherm said. She called it another in a string of Walker's actions that kills jobs and wastes money while missing a chance to develop greener solutions.

"This was a way to keep money local, to keep the investment in Wisconsin," she said. "While up front it may seem to cost more, it would have kept the money local, created a green infrastructure and created local jobs."

She said the jobs would include growing and harvesting the biomass, converting it into a form that could burned and transporting it to the plant.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Walker's windbreak

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Gov. Scott Walker's proposal on wind turbine setback requirements would kill jobs and hurt the state's renewable energy portfolio. The Legislature should reject it.

If Gov. Scott Walker is serious about creating jobs in Wisconsin - and we believe he is - he should not turn his back on job-creation opportunities that are available in green industries. Yet he seems to be doing exactly that, a primary example of which is proposed regulation that could effectively kill wind energy production in Wisconsin.

Walker's proposal would require an 1,800-foot setback for wind turbines from nearby properties. Wind farm developers and supporters say that such a requirement would kill or severely curtail 10 of the 12 wind projects underway or proposed. That means a loss in jobs; it also means a significant reduction in the amount of renewable energy that would be available to the state in coming years.

Given the reality of climate change and likely new regulations that will be needed to mitigate the human factor in climate change, reducing renewable energy alternatives is a very bad idea.

Walker's proposal also overturns the good work of an advisory committee and the state Public Service Commission that spent the past two years coming up with a less restrictive setback requirement of 1,250 feet for large turbines. As Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin noted in an op-ed on Wednesday, the PSC held six rounds of public comments and received input from all the major stakeholders.

Some of those stakeholders may have been unhappy with the consensus that was reached, but the result was a reasonable compromise after an open process. To throw that all out and replace the PSC rule with the most restrictive statewide setback regulations in the country would be a mistake.

Walker seems to be reacting to a fear that wind turbines lower property values and limit development. But a 2009 study by the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found no evidence "that home prices surrounding wind facilities are consistently, measurably and significantly affected by either the view of wind facilities or the distance of the home to those facilities."

Milwaukee to revamp energy efficiency program

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

Milwaukee is revamping a program aimed at encouraging homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient and will unveil it this spring, Mayor Tom Barrett said.

The city sought a variety of funding alternatives to encourage homeowners to boost the efficiency of their buildings, letting city residents pay for the upgrades over time on their utility bill or their tax bill.

Rebuffed in those efforts, the city will instead apply stimulus funds to help create a revolving loan fund for the projects when it relaunches the ME2, or Milwaukee Energy Efficiency program, this spring, Barrett said during a White House roundtable Tuesday on "greening America's cities."

"But to me that still doesn't get at the core issue," Barrett said. "The challenge is how do you take that family, or single woman or man, who's living in that house who's got financial issues right now. They live in an older home, and how do you convince them that it's in their best interest to make their home more energy efficient?"

The barriers to increasing investment in energy efficiency are many, despite the payback in lower energy costs, said Joel Rogers, head of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy and a leader in the national Emerald Cities Collaborative aimed at making government and institutional buildings more cost-effective in their energy use.

"The first major barrier is that most people don't know much about what they can save," Rogers said.

Walker wrong on wind rules

From an editorial in the La Crosse Tribune:

Cue the overture to “Gone with the Wind.”

Gov. Scott Walker already has thrown back $810 million in federal funding for high-speed rail — and the jobs and investment attached — to other states, including Illinois.

Now, he wants to make sure Wisconsin blows an opportunity to develop wind energy — development that our neighbors to the west have blown past Wisconsin on.

Denise Bode, CEO of American Wind Energy Association, says the governor’s new regulations for wind energy would imperil a dozen Wisconsin wind farms worth $1.8 billion and 950 full-time jobs.

So, we’re forced to ask once again: When does Wisconsin get some of the 250,000 new jobs that Walker has promised — and when does he intend to stop creating jobs in other states at our expense?

The governor is pushing a regulatory bill that would quadruple the distance that a wind turbine is set back from another property. Opponents say that may kill any current or future wind-turbine operation.

In Walker-speak, that’s known as a job-killer.

The proposed regulations are especially troubling because they could cause problems for an innovative partnership between Gundersen Lutheran and Organic Valley. The two organization plan to split the $11.5 million cost of their project near Organic Valley’s distribution center in Cashton. A spokesman said they hope to order turbines within two weeks and begin generating electricity by November.

Isn’t that the type of entrepreneurial innovation and dynamic partnership that Wisconsin needs to grow the economy — especially with green energy?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't blow back on wind power

From an editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal:

More government regulation and tighter restrictions?

That's the wrong path for Wisconsin to take on promising wind energy projects.

Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature should instead stick with the reasonable and uniform rules that the state Public Service Commission has approved.

Wisconsin is already falling behind its neighbors in the push to use wind as a clean, renewable energy source. At the same time, Wisconsin imports a huge portion of its power from out of state.

That's why the PSC was smart to adopt standard rules for siting smaller wind operations as well as bigger wind farms. The PSC, after listening to public testimony, health experts and industry officials, wisely streamlined and replaced a hodgepodge of local restrictions.

The PSC standards now protect public health and safety while permitting well-designed wind farms on appropriate sites. Besides more home-grown energy, Wisconsin gains jobs related to the manufacturing of parts for turbines. Farmers also benefit from the additional income they receive for allowing turbines of varying size on their land.

Walker's welcome mantra since his election last fall has been that Wisconsin is "open for business." But Walker's proposal for more regulation and restrictions on wind projects runs counter to that promise.

Using garbage to create energy

From a story on WXOW, La-Crosse, WI:

ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- La Crosse County is teaming up with Gundersen Lutheran to make our local landfill a renewable energy source.

It maybe hard to believe that seventy thousand tons of garbage can be put to good use, but the Gas to Energy Project is turning solid waste biogas into heat and energy.

The way this process works is, as this garbage begins to decompose it creates methane gas. The La Crosse County Landfill collects the gas in underground pipelines and later, burns the substance.

With this new program, methane would no longer be wasted.

It instead will be sent via an underground pipeline to Gundersen Lutheran in Onalaska.

The project is estimated to cost around 3.3 million dollars.

It requires a two mile pipeline to be installed underground from the landfill to the Onalaska Gundersen Lutheran facility.

Gundersen Lutheran says construction of this project is expected to begin sometime this spring.

The project is expected to offset about 12 percent of Gundersen Lutheran's total energy use.

It is a sustainability investment that will pay itself back within five years.

Walker's wind ban proposal is jobs killer

From a commentary by by Keith Reopelle, Senior Policy Director of Clean Wisconsin:

MADISON -- A special session bill recently proposed by Governor Scott Walker includes many provisions that could hurt Wisconsin’s economy and environment, but one of the most perplexing proposals in this package is a new regulation that would effectively ban wind energy projects in Wisconsin.

The regulatory reform bill proposed by Gov. Walker would close Wisconsin’s doors to clean, renewable wind power and cost our state thousands of jobs. Our state legislators – who were elected on the promise of real job creation and economic recovery – should reject Gov. Walker’s bill.

The proposed bill creates regulations that effectively prohibit wind energy developers from constructing a wind turbine within 1,800 feet of the nearest property line. If approved, this law will make siting a wind farm so difficult that no wind developer will even bother trying; especially when Illinois and Iowa are waiting with open arms, having no setback provision at all.

The bill will immediately jeopardize 11 proposed wind projects that are set to create hundreds of jobs and undoubtedly many others in the planning stages.

Beyond killing current projects, this law would ensure that no new wind development companies or wind turbine manufacturers locate in Wisconsin, and result in the loss of thousands more jobs constructing and maintaining wind turbines.

Wind energy production is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. In 2010, the industry employed over 85,000 people nationally. In Wisconsin, the wind industry supports thousands of jobs at businesses like Tower Tech in Manitowoc and Renewegy in Oshkosh. Both companies produce parts for wind turbines. Tower Tech produced its first turbine in 2005 and now employs over 250 people at its plant where it offers competitive wages and good benefits.

By effectively banning wind energy construction in the state, this law would leave manufacturing companies like Tower Tech with far less incentive to develop in Wisconsin.

These more restrictive regulations would replace rules that the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved after two years of study, six rounds of public comments, and input from all major stakeholder groups.

Walker's wind ban proposal is jobs killer

From a commentary by by Keith Reopelle, Senior Policy Director of Clean Wisconsin:

MADISON -- A special session bill recently proposed by Governor Scott Walker includes many provisions that could hurt Wisconsin’s economy and environment, but one of the most perplexing proposals in this package is a new regulation that would effectively ban wind energy projects in Wisconsin.

The regulatory reform bill proposed by Gov. Walker would close Wisconsin’s doors to clean, renewable wind power and cost our state thousands of jobs. Our state legislators – who were elected on the promise of real job creation and economic recovery – should reject Gov. Walker’s bill.

The proposed bill creates regulations that effectively prohibit wind energy developers from constructing a wind turbine within 1,800 feet of the nearest property line. If approved, this law will make siting a wind farm so difficult that no wind developer will even bother trying; especially when Illinois and Iowa are waiting with open arms, having no setback provision at all.

The bill will immediately jeopardize 11 proposed wind projects that are set to create hundreds of jobs and undoubtedly many others in the planning stages.

Beyond killing current projects, this law would ensure that no new wind development companies or wind turbine manufacturers locate in Wisconsin, and result in the loss of thousands more jobs constructing and maintaining wind turbines.

Wind energy production is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. In 2010, the industry employed over 85,000 people nationally. In Wisconsin, the wind industry supports thousands of jobs at businesses like Tower Tech in Manitowoc and Renewegy in Oshkosh. Both companies produce parts for wind turbines. Tower Tech produced its first turbine in 2005 and now employs over 250 people at its plant where it offers competitive wages and good benefits.

By effectively banning wind energy construction in the state, this law would leave manufacturing companies like Tower Tech with far less incentive to develop in Wisconsin.

These more restrictive regulations would replace rules that the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved after two years of study, six rounds of public comments, and input from all major stakeholder groups.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Walker's wind ban proposal is jobs killer

From a commentary by by Keith Reopelle, Senior Policy Director of Clean Wisconsin:

MADISON -- A special session bill recently proposed by Governor Scott Walker includes many provisions that could hurt Wisconsin’s economy and environment, but one of the most perplexing proposals in this package is a new regulation that would effectively ban wind energy projects in Wisconsin.

The regulatory reform bill proposed by Gov. Walker would close Wisconsin’s doors to clean, renewable wind power and cost our state thousands of jobs. Our state legislators – who were elected on the promise of real job creation and economic recovery – should reject Gov. Walker’s bill.

The proposed bill creates regulations that effectively prohibit wind energy developers from constructing a wind turbine within 1,800 feet of the nearest property line. If approved, this law will make siting a wind farm so difficult that no wind developer will even bother trying; especially when Illinois and Iowa are waiting with open arms, having no setback provision at all.

The bill will immediately jeopardize 11 proposed wind projects that are set to create hundreds of jobs and undoubtedly many others in the planning stages.

Beyond killing current projects, this law would ensure that no new wind development companies or wind turbine manufacturers locate in Wisconsin, and result in the loss of thousands more jobs constructing and maintaining wind turbines.

Wind energy production is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. In 2010, the industry employed over 85,000 people nationally. In Wisconsin, the wind industry supports thousands of jobs at businesses like Tower Tech in Manitowoc and Renewegy in Oshkosh. Both companies produce parts for wind turbines. Tower Tech produced its first turbine in 2005 and now employs over 250 people at its plant where it offers competitive wages and good benefits.

By effectively banning wind energy construction in the state, this law would leave manufacturing companies like Tower Tech with far less incentive to develop in Wisconsin.

These more restrictive regulations would replace rules that the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved after two years of study, six rounds of public comments, and input from all major stakeholder groups.

Walker’s Wind Siting Proposal Strips Local Control

For immediate release:
January 18, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Walker’s Wind Siting Proposal Strips Local Control

Mandating by statute an extreme setback distance for commercial wind turbines, Governor Scott Walker’s wind siting proposal would strip local governments of their ability to negotiate lesser setback distances with wind developers, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy group.

Walker’s proposal would require a setback distance between a turbine and neighboring property line of 1,800 feet, which can be shortened only by an agreement between the project owner and owners of adjoining properties, entirely bypassing towns and counties.

Walker’s proposal would eliminate the ability of local governments to attract wind developments that would generate revenues in lieu of taxes to help buffer the expected cuts to local governments in the upcoming state budget.

A story in the Fond du Lac Reporter on January 12 quoted town and county officials as saying the wind project revenue helped save on property taxes by filling the gap between rising municipal expenses and declining state-paid shared revenue dollars.

“We’ve seen five towns in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties enter into joint development agreements specifying reasonable setback distances because town officials wanted to capture the economic benefits of hosting wind projects larger than 50 megawatts,” Vickerman said.

The statewide siting rule, approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and set to take effect March 1, preserved local government authority to specify less restrictive conditions.

“This unreasonable proposal is a steamroller driven by anti-wind special interests, like realtors, bent on denying local governments the ability to decide what’s in their best interests,” said Vickerman.

END

Walker’s Wind Siting Proposal Strips Local Control

For immediate release:
January 18, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Walker’s Wind Siting Proposal Strips Local Control

Mandating by statute an extreme setback distance for commercial wind turbines, Governor Scott Walker’s wind siting proposal would strip local governments of their ability to negotiate lesser setback distances with wind developers, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy group.

Walker’s proposal would require a setback distance between a turbine and neighboring property line of 1,800 feet, which can be shortened only by an agreement between the project owner and owners of adjoining properties, entirely bypassing towns and counties.

Walker’s proposal would eliminate the ability of local governments to attract wind developments that would generate revenues in lieu of taxes to help buffer the expected cuts to local governments in the upcoming state budget.

A story in the Fond du Lac Reporter on January 12 quoted town and county officials as saying the wind project revenue helped save on property taxes by filling the gap between rising municipal expenses and declining state-paid shared revenue dollars.

“We’ve seen five towns in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties enter into joint development agreements specifying reasonable setback distances because town officials wanted to capture the economic benefits of hosting wind projects larger than 50 megawatts,” Vickerman said.

The statewide siting rule, approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and set to take effect March 1, preserved local government authority to specify less restrictive conditions.

“This unreasonable proposal is a steamroller driven by anti-wind special interests, like realtors, bent on denying local governments the ability to decide what’s in their best interests,” said Vickerman.

Walker’s wind siting proposal strips local control

For immediate release:
January 18, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Walker’s Wind Siting Proposal Strips Local Control

Mandating by statute an extreme setback distance for commercial wind turbines, Governor Scott Walker’s wind siting proposal would strip local governments of their ability to negotiate lesser setback distances with wind developers, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy group.

Walker’s proposal would require a setback distance between a turbine and neighboring property line of 1,800 feet, which can be shortened only by an agreement between the project owner and owners of adjoining properties, entirely bypassing towns and counties.

Walker’s proposal would eliminate the ability of local governments to attract wind developments that would generate revenues in lieu of taxes to help buffer the expected cuts to local governments in the upcoming state budget.

A story in the Fond du Lac Reporter on January 12 quoted town and county officials as saying the wind project revenue helped save on property taxes by filling the gap between rising municipal expenses and declining state-paid shared revenue dollars.

“We’ve seen five towns in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties enter into joint development agreements specifying reasonable setback distances because town officials wanted to capture the economic benefits of hosting wind projects larger than 50 megawatts,” Vickerman said.

The statewide siting rule, approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and set to take effect March 1, preserved local government authority to specify less restrictive conditions.

“This unreasonable proposal is a steamroller driven by anti-wind special interests, like realtors, bent on denying local governments the ability to decide what’s in their best interests,” said Vickerman.

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.

Wisconsin is Blowing It

From a news release issued by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters:

Illinois Stands to Benefit from Walker’s Excessive Wind Regulations

Madison - Just days after appearing on TV and radio in Chicago to remind Illinois that Wisconsin is open for business, Governor Walker introduced a bill that would essentially ban wind development in Wisconsin. The move would leave Wisconsin dependent on other states, including Illinois, to meet our energy demand.

In the bill introduced for consideration in the special session, Governor Walker suggests placing regulations on wind development that are so restrictive, they would essentially prohibit the development
of future wind projects in Wisconsin, and even stop some already on the docket. If passed, it's estimated that Wisconsin will immediately lose $1.8 billion in new wind power investments and jeopardize eleven currently proposed wind projects. Illinois has no restrictions on wind siting.

Wisconsin currently ranks fifth in the nation in the portion of its electricity derived from imported coal. Wisconsin sends more than $850 million out of state every year to places like Indiana, Wyoming, and Illinois to purchase coal.

"While other states are moving forward with their own energy independence, it appears Governor Walker wants Wisconsin to remain dependent on places like Illinois for our dirty coal habit. This move is sending a very dangerous message to the global wind industry. From those who install wind turbines to those who manufacture them, Governor Walker is suggesting they take their business elsewhere," said Kerry Schumann, Executive Director of Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

There is growing concern that Governor Walker's rejection of twenty-first century energy projects is becoming a pattern.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Walker proposal would torpedo $1.8 billion in new wind power investments

From a news release issued by RENEW Wisconsin:

The window on new wind power developments is likely to slammed completely shut by the end of 2011 under a proposal released by Governor Scott Walker, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.

“As part of a larger proposal ostensibly to create jobs, Governor Walker unveiled new restrictions on wind energy development that, if adopted by the Legislature, would drive development activity worth $1.8 billion out of state,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

Governor Walker’s proposal would mandate minimum setbacks of 1,800 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line, a dramatic increase from the setback distance of 1,250 feet from a neighboring residence approved by the Public Service Commission in a rule that would otherwise take effect on March 1.

“There are very few locations in the entire Badger State that are windy and large enough, and located near transmission lines, to overcome such extreme constraints,” said Vickerman.

This setback requirement, which would be more stringent than any other statewide regulation in the nation, would also apply to permitted projects that have not begun construction, such as the two-turbine project in a Village of Cashton industrial park that was ready to begin construction this spring. A 99-megawatt project near Darlington in Lafayette County would also be blocked, said Vickerman.

“Because construction has commenced, We Energies’ 90-turbine Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County will avoid these extreme restrictions,” said Vickerman. “Adoption of Walker’s proposal will draw the curtain on projects that would follow Glacier Hills, which will be able to power up to 45,000 homes.”

Walker proposal would torpedo $1.8 billion in new wind power investments

From a news release issued by RENEW Wisconsin:

The window on new wind power developments is likely to slammed completely shut by the end of 2011 under a proposal released by Governor Scott Walker, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.

“As part of a larger proposal ostensibly to create jobs, Governor Walker unveiled new restrictions on wind energy development that, if adopted by the Legislature, would drive development activity worth $1.8 billion out of state,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

Governor Walker’s proposal would mandate minimum setbacks of 1,800 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line, a dramatic increase from the setback distance of 1,250 feet from a neighboring residence approved by the Public Service Commission in a rule that would otherwise take effect on March 1.

“There are very few locations in the entire Badger State that are windy and large enough, and located near transmission lines, to overcome such extreme constraints,” said Vickerman.

This setback requirement, which would be more stringent than any other statewide regulation in the nation, would also apply to permitted projects that have not begun construction, such as the two-turbine project in a Village of Cashton industrial park that was ready to begin construction this spring. A 99-megawatt project near Darlington in Lafayette County would also be blocked, said Vickerman.

“Because construction has commenced, We Energies’ 90-turbine Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County will avoid these extreme restrictions,” said Vickerman. “Adoption of Walker’s proposal will draw the curtain on projects that would follow Glacier Hills, which will be able to power up to 45,000 homes.”

Walker proposal would torpedo $1.8 billion in new wind power investments

From a news release issued by RENEW Wisconsin:

The window on new wind power developments is likely to slammed completely shut by the end of 2011 under a proposal released by Governor Scott Walker, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.

“As part of a larger proposal ostensibly to create jobs, Governor Walker unveiled new restrictions on wind energy development that, if adopted by the Legislature, would drive development activity worth $1.8 billion out of state,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

Governor Walker’s proposal would mandate minimum setbacks of 1,800 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line, a dramatic increase from the setback distance of 1,250 feet from a neighboring residence approved by the Public Service Commission in a rule that would otherwise take effect on March 1.

“There are very few locations in the entire Badger State that are windy and large enough, and located near transmission lines, to overcome such extreme constraints,” said Vickerman.

This setback requirement, which would be more stringent than any other statewide regulation in the nation, would also apply to permitted projects that have not begun construction, such as the two-turbine project in a Village of Cashton industrial park that was ready to begin construction this spring. A 99-megawatt project near Darlington in Lafayette County would also be blocked, said Vickerman.

“Because construction has commenced, We Energies’ 90-turbine Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County will avoid these extreme restrictions,” said Vickerman. “Adoption of Walker’s proposal will draw the curtain on projects that would follow Glacier Hills, which will be able to power up to 45,000 homes.”

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.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wind turbine by port: What would it look like?

From an article by Tom Content of the Journal Sentinel:

The city's Office of Environmental Sustainability has released renderings of what a proposed wind turbine near the Port Administration building would look like.

Here are two views, showing one of each turbine. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison because they are shown at two different sites, one by the port building and one closer to the lakeshore near the Lake Express ferry terminal. The renderings were prepared by the University of WIsconsin-Milwaukee Institute for Ecological Design.

The first shows the smaller turbine, a 20-kilowatt tower standing 115 feet tall. designed by Renewegy of Oshkosh, by the Port Administration building:




















Below is a view of the North Power 100, built by Vermont-based Northern Power Systems, near the Lake Express terminal. It's a 100-kilowatt turbine that would be 156 feet tall at the tip of the wind turbine blade.

A community meeting to discuss the possible placement of turbines at one of the two sites is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday at South Shore Park Pavilion.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Walker seeks to halt wind projects, cut property tax relief, send jobs to other states

From an article by Colleen Kottke in the Fond du Lac Reporter:

Local municipalities are profiting from the wind. While many residents in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties live nowhere near the turbines dotting the landscape, the revenue stream from the towering towers is helping to offset increases in property taxes.

Last year, owners of Wisconsin’s four largest wind energy projects paid out nearly $2.8 million in rent to landowners hosting turbines and payments in lieu of property taxes to local governments, according to figures compiled by RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.
Fond du Lac County, which is home to 166 wind turbines, received a revenue payment of $625,000. Dodge County received $296,000 in payments for hosting 85 wind turbines.
“While we didn’t designate the income for anything in particular, we did use it to pay the bills of the county. Ultimately, it saves on property tax,” said Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel.

Formula
Towns and counties do not collect property taxes from wind turbines but instead receive payments based on the generating capacity of each turbine, allocated under a formula adopted by the state Legislature in 2003.
Of the total revenue paid out to local governmental entities, counties retain two-thirds of the payments while townships hosting the turbines receive one-third. Payments to those local governments in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties will reach almost $1.6 million for 2010.

Wind energy developers negotiate lease agreements with landowners to host turbines on their property. Payments can be as high as $7,000 per turbine each year. Estimated rental payments to all Fond du Lac and Dodge county landowners will total slightly more than $1.2 million for 2010. Property owners hosting the 88 wind turbines in the Blue Sky Green Field wind farm in townships of Marshfield and Calumet divvied up a total of $440,000 paid to them by WeEnergies.

Marshfield Township Chairman John Bord said the $121,000 received from WeEnergies was used to keep rising property taxes in check in the town.

Walker seeks to halt wind projects, cut property tax relief, send jobs to other states

From an article by Colleen Kottke in the Fond du Lac Reporter:

Local municipalities are profiting from the wind. While many residents in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties live nowhere near the turbines dotting the landscape, the revenue stream from the towering towers is helping to offset increases in property taxes.

Last year, owners of Wisconsin’s four largest wind energy projects paid out nearly $2.8 million in rent to landowners hosting turbines and payments in lieu of property taxes to local governments, according to figures compiled by RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.
Fond du Lac County, which is home to 166 wind turbines, received a revenue payment of $625,000. Dodge County received $296,000 in payments for hosting 85 wind turbines.
“While we didn’t designate the income for anything in particular, we did use it to pay the bills of the county. Ultimately, it saves on property tax,” said Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel.

Formula
Towns and counties do not collect property taxes from wind turbines but instead receive payments based on the generating capacity of each turbine, allocated under a formula adopted by the state Legislature in 2003.
Of the total revenue paid out to local governmental entities, counties retain two-thirds of the payments while townships hosting the turbines receive one-third. Payments to those local governments in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties will reach almost $1.6 million for 2010.

Wind energy developers negotiate lease agreements with landowners to host turbines on their property. Payments can be as high as $7,000 per turbine each year. Estimated rental payments to all Fond du Lac and Dodge county landowners will total slightly more than $1.2 million for 2010. Property owners hosting the 88 wind turbines in the Blue Sky Green Field wind farm in townships of Marshfield and Calumet divvied up a total of $440,000 paid to them by WeEnergies.

Marshfield Township Chairman John Bord said the $121,000 received from WeEnergies was used to keep rising property taxes in check in the town.

Walker seeks to halt wind projects, cut property tax relief, send jobs to other states

From an article by Colleen Kottke in the Fond du Lac Reporter:

Local municipalities are profiting from the wind. While many residents in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties live nowhere near the turbines dotting the landscape, the revenue stream from the towering towers is helping to offset increases in property taxes.

Last year, owners of Wisconsin’s four largest wind energy projects paid out nearly $2.8 million in rent to landowners hosting turbines and payments in lieu of property taxes to local governments, according to figures compiled by RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.
Fond du Lac County, which is home to 166 wind turbines, received a revenue payment of $625,000. Dodge County received $296,000 in payments for hosting 85 wind turbines.
“While we didn’t designate the income for anything in particular, we did use it to pay the bills of the county. Ultimately, it saves on property tax,” said Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel.

Formula
Towns and counties do not collect property taxes from wind turbines but instead receive payments based on the generating capacity of each turbine, allocated under a formula adopted by the state Legislature in 2003.
Of the total revenue paid out to local governmental entities, counties retain two-thirds of the payments while townships hosting the turbines receive one-third. Payments to those local governments in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties will reach almost $1.6 million for 2010.

Wind energy developers negotiate lease agreements with landowners to host turbines on their property. Payments can be as high as $7,000 per turbine each year. Estimated rental payments to all Fond du Lac and Dodge county landowners will total slightly more than $1.2 million for 2010. Property owners hosting the 88 wind turbines in the Blue Sky Green Field wind farm in townships of Marshfield and Calumet divvied up a total of $440,000 paid to them by WeEnergies.

Marshfield Township Chairman John Bord said the $121,000 received from WeEnergies was used to keep rising property taxes in check in the town.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yes to turbines

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wind turbines on the lakefront would be a good sign for the city's renewable energy portfolio.

Milwaukee's lakefront may in some ways indeed be sacred to local residents. Its natural beauty is a defining characteristic of the city and the region. But it is not so sacred that worthwhile projects can't be developed for the lakefront.

One such project that deserves serious consideration is placing one to three wind turbines near the Lake Express car ferry terminal to provide renewable power for the Port of Milwaukee administration. It also is designed to demonstrate the city's commitment renewable energy. These are all good things.

The project would be funded with a block grant from federal economic stimulus dollars, Erick Shambarger, a city environmental sustainability manager, told Journal Sentinel reporter Thomas Content. "No property tax dollars would be involved," Shambarger said.

Most of the $5.8 million block grant would go to programs aimed at boosting energy efficiency and conservation, but city officials saw the wind turbine project as an opportunity "to show the city's commitment to renewable power. Having this at the port building would be a visible way to do that," Shambarger said.

The cost of the project would depend on the type of turbine selected. A larger turbine is expected to cost $550,000, but the price could be reduced by incentives that the city would seek from the Focus on Energy program and We Energies.

Solar-powered justice

From an article in the La Crosse Tribune:

La Crosse County will receive $128,000 in rebates for energy-efficient portions of the new 140,000-square-foot center addition. Projects such as this solar water heating system are expected to save the county more than $65,000 a year in energy costs.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Landowners and municipalities to reap millions from wind farm operations for 2010

For immediate release
January 10, 2011

More information
RENEW Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Landowners and Municipalities to Reap Millions from Wind Farm Operations for 2010

Owners of Wisconsin’s four largest wind energy projects will pay out approximately $2.8 million in rent to landowners hosting turbines and payments in lieu of taxes to local governments for 2010, according to figures compiled by RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.

Wind energy developers negotiate lease agreements with landowners to host turbines on their property. Payments can be as high as $7,000 per turbine per year. Estimated rental payments to all Fond du Lac and Dodge county landowners will total slightly more than $1.2 million in 2010.

Towns and counties do not collect property taxes from wind turbines but instead receive payments based on the generating capacity of each turbine, allocated under a formula adopted by the Legislature in 2003. Payments to those local governments will reach almost $1.6 million for 2010.

“These revenues help support farm families and rural Wisconsin communities.” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. “It’s a much better deal for the state than sending dollars to Wyoming and West Virginia for the coal imported to Wisconsin to generate electricity.”

Gary Haltaufderheide, an employee of Madison-based Land Services Company, which negotiates land leases for large projects, like pipelines and wind turbines, says, “Farmers are smart business people and they’re very satisfied with the payments. One farmer saw the lease as a way to cover tuition payments for a child entering college.”

Four wind projects – Forward, Blue Sky Green Field, Cedar Ridge, and Butler Ridge – account for the payments to host landowners and local governments. Together these projects comprise nearly 90 percent of Wisconsin’s wind generation fleet.

When calculated over a 20-year contract period, total revenues should exceed $60 million, taking inflation into account.

Shirley Wind, the state’s newest wind power installation, will contributed another $80,000 a year, divided equally between Brown County, Town of Glenmore, local landowners, and neighbors within one-third of a mile of a turbine. The eight-turbine, 20-megawatt project began producing electricity in 2010.

Click tables to enlarge.

Landowners and municipalities to reap millions from wind farm operations for 2010

For immediate release
January 10, 2011

More information
RENEW Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Landowners and Municipalities to Reap Millions from Wind Farm Operations for 2010

Owners of Wisconsin’s four largest wind energy projects will pay out approximately $2.8 million in rent to landowners hosting turbines and payments in lieu of taxes to local governments for 2010, according to figures compiled by RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.

Wind energy developers negotiate lease agreements with landowners to host turbines on their property. Payments can be as high as $7,000 per turbine per year. Estimated rental payments to all Fond du Lac and Dodge county landowners will total slightly more than $1.2 million in 2010.

Towns and counties do not collect property taxes from wind turbines but instead receive payments based on the generating capacity of each turbine, allocated under a formula adopted by the Legislature in 2003. Payments to those local governments will reach almost $1.6 million for 2010.

“These revenues help support farm families and rural Wisconsin communities.” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. “It’s a much better deal for the state than sending dollars to Wyoming and West Virginia for the coal imported to Wisconsin to generate electricity.”

Gary Haltaufderheide, an employee of Madison-based Land Services Company, which negotiates land leases for large projects, like pipelines and wind turbines, says, “Farmers are smart business people and they’re very satisfied with the payments. One farmer saw the lease as a way to cover tuition payments for a child entering college.”

Four wind projects – Forward, Blue Sky Green Field, Cedar Ridge, and Butler Ridge – account for the payments to host landowners and local governments. Together these projects comprise nearly 90 percent of Wisconsin’s wind generation fleet.

When calculated over a 20-year contract period, total revenues should exceed $60 million, taking inflation into account.

Shirley Wind, the state’s newest wind power installation, will contributed another $80,000 a year, divided equally between Brown County, Town of Glenmore, local landowners, and neighbors within one-third of a mile of a turbine. The eight-turbine, 20-megawatt project began producing electricity in 2010.

Data tables