Search This Blog

Monday, February 28, 2011

USDA highlights on-farm renewable energy use

From an article by Chris Clayton in the Progressive Farmer:

USDA released a study Friday showing 8,569 farms nationally had either solar panels, wind turbines or methane digesters in 2009.

The study highlighted at the USDA Outlook Forum looked at the costs savings of farms producing their own energy, as well as the costs of building such facilities.

One clear takeaway from the study is that the vast majority of solar panels, methane digesters or wind turbines being used for on-the-farm power were build since 2005.

Of the three major renewable-energy sources drawn from the survey, solar power by far the largest renewable power source being used on farms. USDA showed 7,968 farms reported using photovaltic or thermal solar panels in 2009. California was the largest state in terms of farms reporting panels, and was also far and way the largest state in terms of the number of solar panels.

Solar powers up former stockyards

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

Wisconsin's first solar panel factory has opened in the Menomonee River Valley, on the site of stockyards that contributed to the city's leadership in the meatpacking and processing industries more than 100 years ago.

Later this year, solar panels will go up on the roof of the building that replaced the stockyards, and the panels will be made downstairs in Steve Ostrenga's factory.

Privately held Helios USA started making robots this month, using an automated production line to build high-efficiency solar panels. The goal: to help put an emerging, 21st-century industry on the map in the state.

That's what excited Patrick Shaw of Cudahy about working at the plant, he said during a recent tour of the W. Canal St. factory.

"I wanted to get into the green field," said Shaw, a former Marine. "All you hear about is how that's up and coming." Then he attended a veterans job fair where Helios was recruiting employees.

"Six months later, here I am," Shaw said.

Production started this month after five weeks of 12-hour days getting the first manufacturing line ready.

Workers installed robots that largely automate the manufacturing process and began test production earlier this month. Finished panels sit in stacks in an area of the plant where future production lines are planned.

A ribbon-cutting at the plant is scheduled for Monday.

During the plant tour, Shaw showed pride in having helped set up the robots.

"They said people's kids could name the robots," Shaw said. Pointing to one hoisting a nearly complete panel, he added, "My 4-year-old named that one Buzz Lightyear."

Shaw is one of 17 workers who, after working to open the plant, began operating its first production line two weeks ago. Ostrenga hopes to nearly triple employment by the end of the year.

Final Rothschild biomass power-plant meeting set

From an article in the Stevens Point Journal:

ROTHSCHILD -- Wausau-area residents will have their final opportunity Tuesday to weigh in on a controversial biomass power plant proposed in Rothschild.

The project, a joint partnership of Milwaukee-based utility We Energies and Domtar Paper, has generated strong opinions from supporters and opponents alike since it was announced in September 2009. Public hearings on the project held by local entities and state regulators have drawn crowds in the hundreds, and on Tuesday, those hearings will draw to a close.

Both the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Public Service Commission must approve permits for the project before construction can begin.

The utility initially pushed for confirmation of the project by both agencies before the end of 2010. We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said construction still can be completed before 2013, making the plant eligible for a federal tax credit.

The members of the PSC could rule on the project at any time. DNR regulators gave preliminary approval for an air permit earlier this month, a key step for We Energies.

The approval process has been incremental, first at the local level with height variances from the village of Rothschild and the city of Wausau. The PSC also gave preliminary approval for the project and rejected requests for a comprehensive study of its potential environmental effects by opponents and environmental groups.

The plant, located next to the Domtar Mill on Old Highway 51 in Rothschild, would burn woody biomass from tree tops and other collected wood, supplying Domtar with steam for its paper-making process and We Energies with energy to sell.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Aldo Leopold Banquet on March 3rd

The UW- Eau Claire Environmental Adventure Center (EAC) In Support of the UW-Eau Claire Confluence Center & Watershed Institute Presents the 6th Annual Aldo Banquet & Silent Auction.

Join us for this very special evening, featuring:
• Introduction of the Aldo Leopold land ethic
• Exquisite Native American dining: Smoked Buffalo with wild rice, nut-crusted river trout, and
...gourmet vegetarian options
• Musical entertainment courtesy of the “Stoop Singers”
• Special guests appearances by:
• Kenny Salwey: “Mississippi: Tales of the Last River Rat”
- Joe Knight: Eau Claire Leader Telegram outdoor writer/author
- Dr. Sean Hartnett: UW-Eau Claire Geography and Anthropology Department
- Dr. Garry Running: UW-Eau Claire Confluence Center & Watershed Institute
- Sam Worple and the student staff at the Environmental Adventure Center

Tickets: $15.00 Students $20.00 Faculty/Staff & Community Members.

This year's proceeds benefit the Wisconsin Youth Success Program (WYSP); connecting Aldo Leopold with the "Next Generation"
Call Dan Langlois at 715-836-3616 or email langlodt@uwec.edu for more information.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Committee sets March 1 to vote on suspension of wind siting rule

From the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) has now scheduled a special meeting on March 1st to consider suspending the PSC128 Wind Siting rule that our industry worked on in 2009-2010 that are scheduled to take effect on March 1st. If the JCRAR suspends the PSC128 rule, before it otherwise would take effect that same day, we will be back where we started two years ago on wind siting reform in Wisconsin.

Committee sets March 1 to vote on suspension of wind siting rule

From the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) has now scheduled a special meeting on March 1st to consider suspending the PSC128 Wind Siting rule that our industry worked on in 2009-2010 that are scheduled to take effect on March 1st. If the JCRAR suspends the PSC128 rule, before it otherwise would take effect that same day, we will be back where we started two years ago on wind siting reform in Wisconsin.

Committee sets March 1 to vote on suspension of wind siting rule

From the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) has now scheduled a special meeting on March 1st to consider suspending the PSC128 Wind Siting rule that our industry worked on in 2009-2010 that are scheduled to take effect on March 1st. If the JCRAR suspends the PSC128 rule, before it otherwise would take effect that same day, we will be back where we started two years ago on wind siting reform in Wisconsin.

Committee sets March 1 to vote on suspension of wind siting rule

From the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) has now scheduled a special meeting on March 1st to consider suspending the PSC128 Wind Siting rule that our industry worked on in 2009-2010 that are scheduled to take effect on March 1st. If the JCRAR suspends the PSC128 rule, before it otherwise would take effect that same day, we will be back where we started two years ago on wind siting reform in Wisconsin.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Job openings likely in sustainable industries for executives, trades, scientists, engineers, planners

From an article by Cara Spoto in the Stevens Point Journal:

Two years ago, Stevens Point resident Rob Peck decided to make a career change.

"My kids were grown ... and I thought I would really like to do something different," Peck, 50, said. "I wanted to get into something that would be good for the community and society in general."

So, after years of working in manufacturing and real estate sales, Peck applied to Mid-State Technical College to become a renewable energy specialist and energy-efficiency technician.

Now a design consultant at Northwind Renewable Energy in Stevens Point, which specializes in designing and installing renewable energy systems, Peck helps customers engineer the perfect solar energy system for their home or business.

Hired about a year ago, Peck was one of two MSTC students who interned with Northwind last summer. Josh Stolzenberg, one of Northwind's owners, said the business plans to take on three new interns this summer. If things work out with the interns, Stolzenberg and his partner, Craig Buttke, plan to hire two of them.

Peck is one of many Wisconsinites looking toward sustainable technologies to shape his next career move. According to Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Chief Labor Economist Dennis Winters, sustainable industries and technologies have and will continue to play a key role in current and emerging job markets in Wisconsin.

The DWD projects that by the year 2018 "professional, scientific, and technical services" industry will be among the top 10 employers in the state.

"'Green,' as it were, actually permeates all industries and occupations," Winters said.

Wisconsin windpower means Wisconsin jobs!

To enlarge, click this ad which appeared in Sunday's Milwuakee Journal Sentinel:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gov. Walker trying to subvert property rights

From a guest column by Mark Hirsch of Platteville in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald:

In 2009, after years of acrimonious debate regarding the impact of wind-energy facilities on local communities, the Wisconsin Legislature directed the Public Service Commission to review public concerns, scientifically analyze the issues and develop guidelines for uniform wind-siting regulations throughout the state.

This lengthy process culminated in the creation of PSC-128, a set of rules drafted to create a level playing field for developing our wind resources while still protecting the health and safety of our citizens and neighbors.

The Legislature's Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules held a public hearing Feb. 9 about PSC-128. I attended with hopes of sharing my voice on this controversial issue, but due to the large turnout, I did not get a chance to speak. Like many Wisconsin residents, I am strongly opposed to Gov. Walker's efforts to stop the development of wind energy in Wisconsin.

Gov. Walker attempted to subvert this set of rules in January by introducing language in his reform bill to radically alter the siting parameters set by PSC-128. The resulting legislation, SB-9, failed Advertisement

to receive any support during the governor's special session. As a result, the governor is trying to subvert these rules again by putting it before the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules. This is not standard operating procedure.

The governor claims that his modification will protect property owners' rights. Under the guise of protecting property owners' rights, what he is really doing is bowing to a special-interest group (the Wisconsin Realtors Association).

An important fact that Gov. Walker is overlooking when he says his rules will protect property owners' rights is that he seems only interested in protecting the rights for those who are neighbors to a wind farm. He needs to argue for the rights of all landowners.

What about the rights of the landowners who support these developments and want the wind farm on their property? These people have paid taxes, farmed their land and, in many cases, sold off small housing parcels to their neighbors. Now the governor wants to empower the neighbors and a minority of landowners with the authority to tell the large property owners what they can do with their land?

Gov. Walker trying to subvert property rights

From a guest column by Mark Hirsch of Platteville in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald:

In 2009, after years of acrimonious debate regarding the impact of wind-energy facilities on local communities, the Wisconsin Legislature directed the Public Service Commission to review public concerns, scientifically analyze the issues and develop guidelines for uniform wind-siting regulations throughout the state.

This lengthy process culminated in the creation of PSC-128, a set of rules drafted to create a level playing field for developing our wind resources while still protecting the health and safety of our citizens and neighbors.

The Legislature's Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules held a public hearing Feb. 9 about PSC-128. I attended with hopes of sharing my voice on this controversial issue, but due to the large turnout, I did not get a chance to speak. Like many Wisconsin residents, I am strongly opposed to Gov. Walker's efforts to stop the development of wind energy in Wisconsin.

Gov. Walker attempted to subvert this set of rules in January by introducing language in his reform bill to radically alter the siting parameters set by PSC-128. The resulting legislation, SB-9, failed Advertisement

to receive any support during the governor's special session. As a result, the governor is trying to subvert these rules again by putting it before the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules. This is not standard operating procedure.

The governor claims that his modification will protect property owners' rights. Under the guise of protecting property owners' rights, what he is really doing is bowing to a special-interest group (the Wisconsin Realtors Association).

An important fact that Gov. Walker is overlooking when he says his rules will protect property owners' rights is that he seems only interested in protecting the rights for those who are neighbors to a wind farm. He needs to argue for the rights of all landowners.

What about the rights of the landowners who support these developments and want the wind farm on their property? These people have paid taxes, farmed their land and, in many cases, sold off small housing parcels to their neighbors. Now the governor wants to empower the neighbors and a minority of landowners with the authority to tell the large property owners what they can do with their land?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fond du Lac County says wind farms support agriculture and local businesses

From a letter to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules from Fond du Lac County in support of PSC proposed wind siting rules, not the rules proposed by Gov. Scot Walker:

Utility scale wind farms in Wisconsin have meant a lot to local
businesses. Farmers that want to continue working their farmland have additional income to support their operations. Land rental payments for turbine sites bring farmers $5,000 each year for each turbine site. Farmers invest these dollars, $829,900 in 2010, into growing crops or their dairy herds. One of our local contractors, Michels Corporation of Brownsville, Wisconsin, has been the prime contractor in several utility scale wind farms. Michels was the prime contractor and paid living wages to just over 200 employees in the Fond du Lac/Dodge County area during the construction of the Forward Energy Center and the Blue Sky/Green Filed wind farm. Michels was also part of the construction team for both Butler Ridge and Glacial Ridge projects elsewhere in Wisconsin. Michels has been in discussions with 4 other wind developers each with 100 MV projects around Wisconsin.

Fond du Lac County says wind farms support agriculture and local businesses

From a letter to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules from Fond du Lac County in support of PSC proposed wind siting rules, not the rules proposed by Gov. Scot Walker:

Utility scale wind farms in Wisconsin have meant a lot to local businesses. Farmers that want to continue working their farmland have additional income to support their operations. Land rental payments for turbine sites bring farmers $5,000 each year for each turbine site. Farmers invest these dollars, $829,900 in 2010, into growing crops or their dairy herds. One of our local contractors, Michels Corporation of Brownsville, Wisconsin, has been the prime contractor in several utility scale wind farms. Michels was the prime contractor and paid living wages to just over 200 employees in the Fond du Lac/Dodge County area during the construction of the Forward Energy Center and the Blue Sky/Green Filed wind farm. Michels was also part of the construction team for both Butler Ridge and Glacial Ridge projects elsewhere in Wisconsin. Michels has been in discussions with 4 other wind developers each with 100 MV projects around Wisconsin.

Rothchild biomass power plant gets draft air permits

From an article by Lisa Gibson in Biomass magazine:

We Energies has received draft air permits for both the construction and operation of its 50-megawatt cogeneration plant to be co-located at a Domtar Paper mill in Rothschild, Wis.

Following the issuance of the draft permits from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is a 30-day public comment period and hearing, according Brian Manthey, We Energies media relations representative. The public hearing is scheduled for March 1, after which time, the WDNR will make the final decision on the permits. “It should be noted that all of our local permits and variances have passed governmental bodies unanimously,” Manthey said. “We have been pleased by the strong support in the community and we would expect that to continue at the hearing.”

We Energies ponders Valley plant's future

From an article by Thomas Content in the Milwaukeee Journal Sentinel:

Stricter EPA pollution rules leading to changes

We Energies managers expect to decide this year how the utility will clean up the Menomonee Valley power plant to comply with new environmental rules.

The Milwaukee power company is studying whether to add pollution controls at the downtown plant or to convert the plant to burn natural gas.

A coalition of health and environmental groups plans a petition drive calling on the company to make changes more rapidly.

The Valley plant has come under fire because it is the only large utility plant the company operates in Wisconsin that hasn't been outfitted with state-of-the-art pollution scrubbers or shut down.

As part of a federal court settlement resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, the state's largest utility has added pollution controls to power plants in Oak Creek and Pleasant Prairie, and converted its oldest coal plant in Port Washington to burn natural gas.

The Cleaner Valley Coalition has expanded its coalition with the addition of the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope and the Wisconsin Interfaith Power & Light coalition, among others. Other members include the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Latino Health Coalition, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin.

"We are demanding We Energies to clean up its mess and the Environmental Protection Agency to hold We Energies accountable to meet modern and protective health standards," said Virginia Zerpa, leader of the Cleaner Valley Coalition.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vickerman to speak at "Small Wind in Your Community"

RENEW Executive Director Michael Vickerman will speak at Small Wind in Your Community a workshop for elected officials/decision-makers (plan commissioners, board/council members, etc.) as well as the planning/zoning community in Oshkosh, March 25.

If you are an elected official/decision-maker (plan commissioner, board/council member, etc.) or opart of the planning/zoning community, get more information by droppping an email to vjohnson@eastcentralrpc.org.

Fond du Lac County says wind farms support local businesses

From a letter to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules from Fond du Lac County in support of PSC proposed wind siting rules, not the rules proposed by Gov. Scot Walker:

Utility scale wind farms in Wisconsin have meant a lot to local
businesses. Farmers that want to continue working their farmland have additional income to support their operations. Land rental payments for turbine sites bring farmers $5,000 each year for each turbine site. Farmers invest these dollars, $829,900 in 2010, into growing crops or their dairy herds. One of our local contractors, Michels Corporation of Brownsville, Wisconsin, has been the prime contractor in several utility scale wind farms. Michels was the prime contractor and paid living wages to just over 200 employees in the Fond du Lac/Dodge County area during the construction of the Forward Energy Center and the Blue Sky/Green Filed wind farm. Michels was also part of the construction team for both Butler Ridge and Glacial Ridge projects elsewhere in Wisconsin. Michels has been in discussions with 4 other wind developers each with 100 MV projects around Wisconsin.

Montfort Wind Farm helps local business

A note from a kind reader in the Montfort area:

Tower Junction Restaurant and Bowling Alley is entirely based on the wind turbine towers. He has a small kiosk outside that describes the Montfort Wind Farm. His placemats at his business features interesting facts about the Wind Farm. He has small scale turbines there too. He has exploited the whole turbine farm and built a successful business and tourist attraction. He gets all kinds of people coming in to visit the Tower Junction theme. Try to talk negative in there, and the locals will look at you like you are nuts.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wisconsin rules CapX 2020 transmission project app incomplete

From an article by Sarah Elmquist in the Winona (MN) Post:

A portion of the proposed CapX2020 electric transmission lines that would connect Alma, Wis. to a substation near Holmen, Wis. hit a snag this week, after the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin determined the lengthy application was incomplete. The PSC included dozens of detailed requirements for information and documents that need to be added to the application for the project to be considered, including areas in the application where environmental review was deemed insufficient, where greater information was needed, and where the utilities need to further explore the ways that efficiency programs might change electricity use projections.

Two possible routes have been proposed for this portion of the CapX2020 project. One would run along the Mississippi River from Alma, Wis., to the La Crosse area. The other would travel from Alma east to Arcadia and then south to La Crosse.

Dorms at UWSP hope to go green with envy

From an article by by Nick Paulson in the Wausau Daily Herald:

STEVENS POINT -- The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is using competitions as a way to engage students in plans to reduce energy use across the campus.

Students in residence halls currently are competing in two contests -- one in energy and one in recycling -- that, in addition to offering prizes, organizers hope will teach students sustainable practices that will stick long after graduation.

UWSP has been exposing students to green living for years through more passive measures such as a "greenest dorm room." But by appealing to students' competitive natures and bringing whole residence halls together, contest organizers hope to engage students who otherwise wouldn't care.

"Wherever there is that added support, you see an increase in participation," said Cindy Von Gnechten, facilities designer for UWSP Residential Living. "Obviously, we want to educate them, but the biggest thing is to carry that with you as you go beyond the residence halls."

One competition, created internally, will pit residence halls against one another to see which one can cut its February energy usage the most, compared with a baseline from November. The hall with the biggest reduction will win three grand prizes.

Students also can be caught doing something green to be entered into a weekly raffle for environmentally friendly prizes.

UWSP residence halls also are participating in a national recycling contest, RecycleMania, in which universities across North America compete to decrease trash and increase recycling.

Muskegon commissioners support Lake Michigan research for offshore wind turbine development

From an article by Dave Alexander in the Muskegon (MI) Chronicle:

MUSKEGON – When the head of the Grand Valley State University alternative energy center asked for the city of Muskegon's help in establishing an offshore wind research buoy in Lake Michigan, there was no controversy.

Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center Director Arn Boezaart asked the Muskegon City Commission for the city to be a co-applicant on state and federal environmental permit applications.

Commissioners quickly voted the city's support and heaped praise on Boezaart for the activities of the energy center in downtown Muskegon.

Anyone who sat through last year's hearings on offshore Lake Michigan wind farms proposed by Scandia would be hard-pressed to see the Ludington City Council or the Pentwater Village Council taking such quick action.

The offshore wind turbine issue simply is not as controversial in Muskegon County as it has been in Oceana and Mason counties. County boards in both Oceana and Mason voted against the Scandia proposal, while Muskegon officials remained relatively supportive.

So when Boezaart approached the city of Muskegon this week for a hand on a $3.7 million offshore wind research buoy project, no one asked if the wind testing effort would eventually lead to huge wind turbines being placed on Lake Michigan off the coast of Muskegon.

There was no debate about turbine blades killing birds or about low-frequency turbine noise — topics that would have likely been part of the conversation with Muskegon's northern neighbors.

“Muskegon has had a willingness to look at offshore wind,” Boezaart told The Chronicle after receiving the city's support on the research buoy project. “It goes right back to what we saw with the Scandia issue. In Muskegon, offshore wind is viewed as a potential source of jobs and represents new business for the region.”

Citizens group sues over wind energy project

From a story on WQOW, Eau Claire:

Town of Forest (WQOW) - A dispute over wind turbines has now turned into a lawsuit.

This week, a citizen group filed a lawsuit against the town of forest. That's north of Glenwood City. An energy company is looking to build more than three dozen wind turbines on various properties in the area. The board approved the measure last year, but residents say they were kept in the dark about the plans.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fond du Lac County, host of 168 wind turbines, supports PSC siting rules

Testimony of Sam Tobias
Director of Planning and Parks
Fond du Lac County

Before the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules
February 9, 2011

(starts at 3:45:30 pm on Wisconsin Eye)

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today -- chairs and committee members as well.

I’ve been with Fond du Lac County for 25 years in a couple of different roles but at this point I’m with the county planning and parks director. You have to know just a bit about Fond du Lac County to understand where I’m coming from and what’s been happening in Fond du Lac. In our county we do not have county zoning, every town in our county, all 21, each has their own individual zoning ordinance. They administer their zoning ordinances. At times, with wind siting issues especially, they depend heavily on their attorney, and they all pretty much use the same attorney. They’ve come up with pretty much the model that’s being used in the PSC rule. And it’s worked very well, and that’s my point here today is we’ve been a test-bed so to speak in Fond du Lac.

The program has worked in Fond du Lac County. Why do I say that? The six town boards in Fond du Lac County that are the six towns that are host to wind turbine projects are all still in place. If this were truly a monumental issue, and truly had widespread health effects, and hazards, nature hazards, those types of things, I don’t think those six town boards would be in place today, but they are.

We’re home to three major utility scale wind turbine projects -- 168 turbines, 268 MW of electricity capacity. Again, the towns, the 8,000 to almost 9,000 town residents, that are involved in these facilities. We don’t have 8,000 to 9,000 people here today protesting against the rules. There are people with concerns, but it’s not the majority by any stretch of the imagination.

Town government took the lead, as I said previously. In permitting, in regulating wind farms in Fond du Lac County and I think they’ve done a very great job. Again, our setbacks are very similar in our towns as to what’s in our state rule. Utility-scale wind farm in Wisconsin mean a lot to local businesses -- from the sandwich supply lunch truck, that comes out to construction sites, to Michels Corporation in Brownsville that’s got 200 people that have been involved in developing wind projects in our county and elsewhere around the state. By their estimations, there are probably four projects out there that are being discussed and are in the works, 100 MW or more each, so there’s projects queued up that need some predictability in outcome, and that’s what this rule does.

I’ll go back to creating a level playing field. This is the same kind of thing that the Wisconsin Realtors Association asked for in ’99 and 2000 – the Wisconsin Smart Growth law. I’m a planner so I supported them in those efforts and that was a big thing that they really wanted. They wanted a level playing field. And I think in this situation, the same rule applies, the same situation applies. Let’s provide a level playing field. We’re not going to have turbines in every corner of the state of Wisconsin. These companies are going to go where the resource is. The resource is fairly limited in our area. . . .

(Q) Thank you for your testimony. You said that the standards that were in place when the wind turbines were put up in Fond du Lac were similar to what were in the PSC. So like a 1,250 foot setback? We’re dealing with something like that?

A) Yes, yes. Setbacks for municipal and civil structures are three times the maximum height of a wind turbine. Setbacks from participating residences can be 600 feet or 1.1 times the turbine height is allowable with written permission from the land owner. The setback from nonparticipating residences is three times the maximum height of the turbine. Setbacks from property lines are 1.1 times the height of the turbine. And setbacks from communications and utility lines is 1.1 times, so it’s similar. If there are some additional consideration to be given, look at what towns in Fond du Lac County have done.

Q) (Senator Leibham) I just want to clarify, are you here on behalf of the County or yourself as an individual?

A) I’m here on behalf of Fond du Lac County. This is an issue we’ve talked over, I’ve talked over with the boss, the county executive Allen Buechel and I’m here with his permission. So I’m speaking on behalf of myself and behalf of Fond du Lac County.

Fond du Lac County, host of 168 wind turbines, supports PSC siting rules

Testimony of Sam Tobias
Director of Planning and Parks
Fond du Lac County

Before the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules
February 9, 2011

(starts at 3:45:30 pm on Wisconsin Eye)

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today -- chairs and committee members as well.

I’ve been with Fond du Lac County for 25 years in a couple of different roles but at this point I’m with the county planning and parks director. You have to know just a bit about Fond du Lac County to understand where I’m coming from and what’s been happening in Fond du Lac. In our county we do not have county zoning, every town in our county, all 21, each has their own individual zoning ordinance. They administer their zoning ordinances. At times, with wind siting issues especially, they depend heavily on their attorney, and they all pretty much use the same attorney. They’ve come up with pretty much the model that’s being used in the PSC rule. And it’s worked very well, and that’s my point here today is we’ve been a test-bed so to speak in Fond du Lac.

The program has worked in Fond du Lac County. Why do I say that? The six town boards in Fond du Lac County that are the six towns that are host to wind turbine projects are all still in place. If this were truly a monumental issue, and truly had widespread health effects, and hazards, nature hazards, those types of things, I don’t think those six town boards would be in place today, but they are.

We’re home to three major utility scale wind turbine projects -- 168 turbines, 268 MW of electricity capacity. Again, the towns, the 8,000 to almost 9,000 town residents, that are involved in these facilities. We don’t have 8,000 to 9,000 people here today protesting against the rules. There are people with concerns, but it’s not the majority by any stretch of the imagination.

Town government took the lead, as I said previously. In permitting, in regulating wind farms in Fond du Lac County and I think they’ve done a very great job. Again, our setbacks are very similar in our towns as to what’s in our state rule. Utility-scale wind farm in Wisconsin mean a lot to local businesses -- from the sandwich supply lunch truck, that comes out to construction sites, to Michels Corporation in Brownsville that’s got 200 people that have been involved in developing wind projects in our county and elsewhere around the state. By their estimations, there are probably four projects out there that are being discussed and are in the works, 100 MW or more each, so there’s projects queued up that need some predictability in outcome, and that’s what this rule does.

I’ll go back to creating a level playing field. This is the same kind of thing that the Wisconsin Realtors Association asked for in ’99 and 2000 – the Wisconsin Smart Growth law. I’m a planner so I supported them in those efforts and that was a big thing that they really wanted. They wanted a level playing field. And I think in this situation, the same rule applies, the same situation applies. Let’s provide a level playing field. We’re not going to have turbines in every corner of the state of Wisconsin. These companies are going to go where the resource is. The resource is fairly limited in our area. . . .

(Q) Thank you for your testimony. You said that the standards that were in place when the wind turbines were put up in Fond du Lac were similar to what were in the PSC. So like a 1,250 foot setback? We’re dealing with something like that?

A) Yes, yes. Setbacks for municipal and civil structures are three times the maximum height of a wind turbine. Setbacks from participating residences can be 600 feet or 1.1 times the turbine height is allowable with written permission from the land owner. The setback from nonparticipating residences is three times the maximum height of the turbine. Setbacks from property lines are 1.1 times the height of the turbine. And setbacks from communications and utility lines is 1.1 times, so it’s similar. If there are some additional consideration to be given, look at what towns in Fond du Lac County have done.

Q) (Senator Leibham) I just want to clarify, are you here on behalf of the County or yourself as an individual?

A) I’m here on behalf of Fond du Lac County. This is an issue we’ve talked over, I’ve talked over with the boss, the county executive Allen Buechel and I’m here with his permission. So I’m speaking on behalf of myself and behalf of Fond du Lac County.

Fond du Lac County, host of 168 wind turbines, supports PSC siting rules

Testimony of Sam Tobias
Director of Planning and Parks
Fond du Lac County

Before the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules
February 9, 2011

(starts at 3:45:30 pm on Wisconsin Eye)

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today -- chairs and committee members as well.

I’ve been with Fond du Lac County for 25 years in a couple of different roles but at this point I’m with the county planning and parks director. You have to know just a bit about Fond du Lac County to understand where I’m coming from and what’s been happening in Fond du Lac. In our county we do not have county zoning, every town in our county, all 21, each has their own individual zoning ordinance. They administer their zoning ordinances. At times, with wind siting issues especially, they depend heavily on their attorney, and they all pretty much use the same attorney. They’ve come up with pretty much the model that’s being used in the PSC rule. And it’s worked very well, and that’s my point here today is we’ve been a test-bed so to speak in Fond du Lac.

The program has worked in Fond du Lac County. Why do I say that? The six town boards in Fond du Lac County that are the six towns that are host to wind turbine projects are all still in place. If this were truly a monumental issue, and truly had widespread health effects, and hazards, nature hazards, those types of things, I don’t think those six town boards would be in place today, but they are.

We’re home to three major utility scale wind turbine projects -- 168 turbines, 268 MW of electricity capacity. Again, the towns, the 8,000 to almost 9,000 town residents, that are involved in these facilities. We don’t have 8,000 to 9,000 people here today protesting against the rules. There are people with concerns, but it’s not the majority by any stretch of the imagination.

Town government took the lead, as I said previously. In permitting, in regulating wind farms in Fond du Lac County and I think they’ve done a very great job. Again, our setbacks are very similar in our towns as to what’s in our state rule. Utility-scale wind farm in Wisconsin mean a lot to local businesses -- from the sandwich supply lunch truck, that comes out to construction sites, to Michels Corporation in Brownsville that’s got 200 people that have been involved in developing wind projects in our county and elsewhere around the state. By their estimations, there are probably four projects out there that are being discussed and are in the works, 100 MW or more each, so there’s projects queued up that need some predictability in outcome, and that’s what this rule does.

I’ll go back to creating a level playing field. This is the same kind of thing that the Wisconsin Realtors Association asked for in ’99 and 2000 – the Wisconsin Smart Growth law. I’m a planner so I supported them in those efforts and that was a big thing that they really wanted. They wanted a level playing field. And I think in this situation, the same rule applies, the same situation applies. Let’s provide a level playing field. We’re not going to have turbines in every corner of the state of Wisconsin. These companies are going to go where the resource is. The resource is fairly limited in our area. . . .

(Q) Thank you for your testimony. You said that the standards that were in place when the wind turbines were put up in Fond du Lac were similar to what were in the PSC. So like a 1,250 foot setback? We’re dealing with something like that?

A) Yes, yes. Setbacks for municipal and civil structures are three times the maximum height of a wind turbine. Setbacks from participating residences can be 600 feet or 1.1 times the turbine height is allowable with written permission from the land owner. The setback from nonparticipating residences is three times the maximum height of the turbine. Setbacks from property lines are 1.1 times the height of the turbine. And setbacks from communications and utility lines is 1.1 times, so it’s similar. If there are some additional consideration to be given, look at what towns in Fond du Lac County have done.

Q) (Senator Leibham) I just want to clarify, are you here on behalf of the County or yourself as an individual?

A) I’m here on behalf of Fond du Lac County. This is an issue we’ve talked over, I’ve talked over with the boss, the county executive Allen Buechel and I’m here with his permission. So I’m speaking on behalf of myself and behalf of Fond du Lac County.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Committee takes no steps to ban wind turbines

RENEW Wisconsin submitted the following statement at the public hearing of the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules on wind siting rules (PSC 128).

Governor Walker and legislative leaders reportedly will seek a change in the rule when the governor appoints a new chair of the three-person Public Service Commission when Commissioner Mark Meyer's term expires March 1. With no legislative action, PSC 128 will become effective on March 1, 2011, and will remain in effect until changed by the PSC.


Good morning, my name is Michael Vickerman. I am here to represent RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy and education organization based in Madison. Incorporated in 1991, RENEW acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. We have over 300 total members, and more than 60 businesses around the state, including Biogas Direct (Prairie du Sac), Bleu Mont Dairy (Mount Horeb), Bubbling Springs Solar (Menomonie), Crave Brothers Farm (Waterloo), Convergence Energy (Lake Geneva), Emerging Energies (Hubertus), Energy Concepts (Hudson), Full Circle Farm (Seymour), Full Spectrum Solar (Madison), GDH, Inc. (Chilton), H&H Solar (Madison), Kettle View Renewable Energy (Random Lake), Michels Wind Energy (Brownsville), North American Hydro (Neshkoro), Northwind Renewable Energy LLC (Stevens Point), Pieper Power (Milwaukee), Organic Valley (LaFarge), Quantum Dairy (Weyauwega), Renewegy (Oshkosh), and Seventh Generation Energy Systems (Madison).

On behalf of all our members that have an interest in wind generation, RENEW Wisconsin took the lead in bringing together diverse groups and companies and forging a broad and bipartisan coalition to support legislation establishing statewide permitting standards for all wind generators in the state of Wisconsin. The fruit of that labor, 2009 Act 40, was signed into law in September 2009.

I am here today to encourage this Committee to take no action on the PSC 128 rule that is scheduled to take effect on March 1st. The Commission's rule is a good-faith compromise that balances the state's interest in promoting a preferred energy resource with the interests of neighboring landowners.

The PSC rule will provide wind energy developers with regulatory certainty -- a clearly defined set of requirements which they must comply with in order to obtain a permit. Such stability and clarity in the wind permitting arena has been absent from Wisconsin for the last 13 years, which, more than any other reason, explains why Wisconsin utilities own more wind generating capacity in Iowa and Minnesota (329 MW) than they do in Wisconsin (235 MW).

I would like this committee to consider the following points:


* The statewide rule promulgated by the PSC is the culmination of two uninterrupted years of agency involvement in wind siting proceedings. The record built on the major issues is nothing short of encyclopedic.

* A longer setback distance is not necessary given PSC 128’s strict regulation of sound propagation and shadow flicker duration. Both the maximum allowable nighttime sound threshold (45 dBa) and the maximum allowable duration of shadow flicker (25 hours a year) are very strict thresholds in comparison to what other states have adopted.

* Payments from wind generation facilities support rural economies. The counties and towns hosting Wisconsin’s four largest operating windpower installations receive more than $1.5 million in payments in lieu of taxes each year. Landowners hosting the 251 turbines in these projects receive more than $1.2 million per year combined. Not counting payments for transmission-related infrastructure, these four wind projects pump nearly $3 million annually to local governments, host landowners and neighboring residents. (See the January 12th, 2011, article in the Fond du Lac Reporter)

* There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values statewide. In 2008 and 2009, Poletti and Associates, an Illinois real estate appraisal firm, investigated the impact of the Lincoln and Rosiere wind projects on nearby land sales and home construction activity. Analyzing seven years’ of sales data, the Poletti study concluded that the 31 turbines in Kewaunee County have not an effect on area property values. Moreover, since 1999, when the turbines were placed in service, more than 10 houses have been constructed within one-half mile of a turbine there.

There is one sure way that Wisconsin leaders can demonstrate their commitment to nurturing wind energy-related businesses and the jobs that will emerge from their activities, and that is to allow the PSC 128 rule to take effect as scheduled on March 1st. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Committee takes no steps to ban wind turbines

RENEW Wisconsin submitted the following statement at the public hearing of the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules on wind siting rules (PSC 128).

Governor Walker and legislative leaders reportedly will seek a change in the rule when the governor appoints a new chair of the three-person Public Service Commission when Commissioner Mark Meyer's term expires March 1. With no legislative action, PSC 128 will become effective on March 1, 2011, and will remain in effect until changed by the PSC.


Good morning, my name is Michael Vickerman. I am here to represent RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy and education organization based in Madison. Incorporated in 1991, RENEW acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. We have over 300 total members, and more than 60 businesses around the state, including Biogas Direct (Prairie du Sac), Bleu Mont Dairy (Mount Horeb), Bubbling Springs Solar (Menomonie), Crave Brothers Farm (Waterloo), Convergence Energy (Lake Geneva), Emerging Energies (Hubertus), Energy Concepts (Hudson), Full Circle Farm (Seymour), Full Spectrum Solar (Madison), GDH, Inc. (Chilton), H&H Solar (Madison), Kettle View Renewable Energy (Random Lake), Michels Wind Energy (Brownsville), North American Hydro (Neshkoro), Northwind Renewable Energy LLC (Stevens Point), Pieper Power (Milwaukee), Organic Valley (LaFarge), Quantum Dairy (Weyauwega), Renewegy (Oshkosh), and Seventh Generation Energy Systems (Madison).

On behalf of all our members that have an interest in wind generation, RENEW Wisconsin took the lead in bringing together diverse groups and companies and forging a broad and bipartisan coalition to support legislation establishing statewide permitting standards for all wind generators in the state of Wisconsin. The fruit of that labor, 2009 Act 40, was signed into law in September 2009.

I am here today to encourage this Committee to take no action on the PSC 128 rule that is scheduled to take effect on March 1st. The Commission's rule is a good-faith compromise that balances the state's interest in promoting a preferred energy resource with the interests of neighboring landowners.

The PSC rule will provide wind energy developers with regulatory certainty -- a clearly defined set of requirements which they must comply with in order to obtain a permit. Such stability and clarity in the wind permitting arena has been absent from Wisconsin for the last 13 years, which, more than any other reason, explains why Wisconsin utilities own more wind generating capacity in Iowa and Minnesota (329 MW) than they do in Wisconsin (235 MW).

I would like this committee to consider the following points:


* The statewide rule promulgated by the PSC is the culmination of two uninterrupted years of agency involvement in wind siting proceedings. The record built on the major issues is nothing short of encyclopedic.

* A longer setback distance is not necessary given PSC 128’s strict regulation of sound propagation and shadow flicker duration. Both the maximum allowable nighttime sound threshold (45 dBa) and the maximum allowable duration of shadow flicker (25 hours a year) are very strict thresholds in comparison to what other states have adopted.

* Payments from wind generation facilities support rural economies. The counties and towns hosting Wisconsin’s four largest operating windpower installations receive more than $1.5 million in payments in lieu of taxes each year. Landowners hosting the 251 turbines in these projects receive more than $1.2 million per year combined. Not counting payments for transmission-related infrastructure, these four wind projects pump nearly $3 million annually to local governments, host landowners and neighboring residents. (See the January 12th, 2011, article in the Fond du Lac Reporter)

* There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values statewide. In 2008 and 2009, Poletti and Associates, an Illinois real estate appraisal firm, investigated the impact of the Lincoln and Rosiere wind projects on nearby land sales and home construction activity. Analyzing seven years’ of sales data, the Poletti study concluded that the 31 turbines in Kewaunee County have not an effect on area property values. Moreover, since 1999, when the turbines were placed in service, more than 10 houses have been constructed within one-half mile of a turbine there.

There is one sure way that Wisconsin leaders can demonstrate their commitment to nurturing wind energy-related businesses and the jobs that will emerge from their activities, and that is to allow the PSC 128 rule to take effect as scheduled on March 1st. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Committee takes no steps to ban wind turbines

RENEW Wisconsin submitted the following statement at the public hearing of the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules on wind siting rules (PSC 128).

Governor Walker and legislative leaders reportedly will seek a change in the rule when the governor appoints a new chair of the three-person Public Service Commission when Commissioner Mark Meyer's term expires March 1. With no legislative action, PSC 128 will become effective on March 1, 2011, and will remain in effect until changed by the PSC.


Good morning, my name is Michael Vickerman. I am here to represent RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy and education organization based in Madison. Incorporated in 1991, RENEW acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. We have over 300 total members, and more than 60 businesses around the state, including Biogas Direct (Prairie du Sac), Bleu Mont Dairy (Mount Horeb), Bubbling Springs Solar (Menomonie), Crave Brothers Farm (Waterloo), Convergence Energy (Lake Geneva), Emerging Energies (Hubertus), Energy Concepts (Hudson), Full Circle Farm (Seymour), Full Spectrum Solar (Madison), GDH, Inc. (Chilton), H&H Solar (Madison), Kettle View Renewable Energy (Random Lake), Michels Wind Energy (Brownsville), North American Hydro (Neshkoro), Northwind Renewable Energy LLC (Stevens Point), Pieper Power (Milwaukee), Organic Valley (LaFarge), Quantum Dairy (Weyauwega), Renewegy (Oshkosh), and Seventh Generation Energy Systems (Madison).

On behalf of all our members that have an interest in wind generation, RENEW Wisconsin took the lead in bringing together diverse groups and companies and forging a broad and bipartisan coalition to support legislation establishing statewide permitting standards for all wind generators in the state of Wisconsin. The fruit of that labor, 2009 Act 40, was signed into law in September 2009.

I am here today to encourage this Committee to take no action on the PSC 128 rule that is scheduled to take effect on March 1st. The Commission's rule is a good-faith compromise that balances the state's interest in promoting a preferred energy resource with the interests of neighboring landowners.

The PSC rule will provide wind energy developers with regulatory certainty -- a clearly defined set of requirements which they must comply with in order to obtain a permit. Such stability and clarity in the wind permitting arena has been absent from Wisconsin for the last 13 years, which, more than any other reason, explains why Wisconsin utilities own more wind generating capacity in Iowa and Minnesota (329 MW) than they do in Wisconsin (235 MW).

I would like this committee to consider the following points:


* The statewide rule promulgated by the PSC is the culmination of two uninterrupted years of agency involvement in wind siting proceedings. The record built on the major issues is nothing short of encyclopedic.

* A longer setback distance is not necessary given PSC 128’s strict regulation of sound propagation and shadow flicker duration. Both the maximum allowable nighttime sound threshold (45 dBa) and the maximum allowable duration of shadow flicker (25 hours a year) are very strict thresholds in comparison to what other states have adopted.

* Payments from wind generation facilities support rural economies. The counties and towns hosting Wisconsin’s four largest operating windpower installations receive more than $1.5 million in payments in lieu of taxes each year. Landowners hosting the 251 turbines in these projects receive more than $1.2 million per year combined. Not counting payments for transmission-related infrastructure, these four wind projects pump nearly $3 million annually to local governments, host landowners and neighboring residents. (See the January 12th, 2011, article in the Fond du Lac Reporter)

* There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values statewide. In 2008 and 2009, Poletti and Associates, an Illinois real estate appraisal firm, investigated the impact of the Lincoln and Rosiere wind projects on nearby land sales and home construction activity. Analyzing seven years’ of sales data, the Poletti study concluded that the 31 turbines in Kewaunee County have not an effect on area property values. Moreover, since 1999, when the turbines were placed in service, more than 10 houses have been constructed within one-half mile of a turbine there.

There is one sure way that Wisconsin leaders can demonstrate their commitment to nurturing wind energy-related businesses and the jobs that will emerge from their activities, and that is to allow the PSC 128 rule to take effect as scheduled on March 1st. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scientists see no basis for turbine 'infrasound' health problems

From an article by Jim Dulzo on the Web site of Michigan Land Use Institute:

. . . when they could not find an independent organization willing to underwrite such a study, they paid for it themselves. AWEA [American Wind Energy Association] and CanWEA [Canada Wind Energy Associaiton] assembled eight scientists and doctors to survey the available scientific literature on the known health effects of living near wind turbines.

Collectively, the eight have strong research or clinical experience in public health, otolaryngology, noise-induced hearing loss, balance and hearing disorders, clinical medicine, audiology, infrasound acoustics, industrial sound pathology, wind and turbine physics, and turbine sound measurement and siting.

Their review of 140 different studies and papers issued in 2009, largely from Europe, where wind farms are common and located quite close to residential areas, is called Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects; An Expert Panel Review.

The panel points out that the environment and our bodies are awash in infrasound, much of it naturally occurring. It finds Dr. Pierpont’s list of maladies too poorly characterized to be medically useful. It finds a markedly stronger correlation between subjects’ claimed turbine syndrome symptoms and their initial attitudes toward turbines than between their symptoms and their level of exposure to turbine sounds.

Windpower opponents quickly attacked the industry funded findings as biased, something that Mike Klepinger, who formerly worked at Michigan State University Extension Service, where he wrote the agency’s wind turbine siting guidelines, says is not surprising.

“Of course, whenever you invite industry into a panel, the whole panel becomes suspect,” Mr. Klepinger said in an interview with Great Lakes Bulletin News Service. “They say, ‘It couldn’t possibly be operating scientifically.’ But you look at the who’s who on the [panel] list, and you kind of have to give the industry an A-plus for trying to make the panel objective.”

Their three major conclusions:

  •  “There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.
  • “The ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans.
  • “The sounds emitted by wind turbines are not unique. There is no reason to believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds and the panel’s experience with sound exposures in occupational settings, that sounds from wind turbines could plausibly have direct adverse health consequences.”

Scientists see no basis for turbine ‘infrasound’ health problems

From an article by Jim Dulzo on the Web site of Michigan Land Use Institute:

. . . when they could not find an independent organization willing to underwrite such a study, they paid for it themselves. AWEA [American Wind Energy Association] and CanWEA [Canada Wind Energy Associaiton] assembled eight scientists and doctors to survey the available scientific literature on the known health effects of living near wind turbines.

Collectively, the eight have strong research or clinical experience in public health, otolaryngology, noise-induced hearing loss, balance and hearing disorders, clinical medicine, audiology, infrasound acoustics, industrial sound pathology, wind and turbine physics, and turbine sound measurement and siting.

Their review of 140 different studies and papers issued in 2009, largely from Europe, where wind farms are common and located quite close to residential areas, is called Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects; An Expert Panel Review.

The panel points out that the environment and our bodies are awash in infrasound, much of it naturally occurring. It finds Dr. Pierpont’s list of maladies too poorly characterized to be medically useful. It finds a markedly stronger correlation between subjects’ claimed turbine syndrome symptoms and their initial attitudes toward turbines than between their symptoms and their level of exposure to turbine sounds.

Windpower opponents quickly attacked the industry funded findings as biased, something that Mike Klepinger, who formerly worked at Michigan State University Extension Service, where he wrote the agency’s wind turbine siting guidelines, says is not surprising.

“Of course, whenever you invite industry into a panel, the whole panel becomes suspect,” Mr. Klepinger said in an interview with Great Lakes Bulletin News Service. “They say, ‘It couldn’t possibly be operating scientifically.’ But you look at the who’s who on the [panel] list, and you kind of have to give the industry an A-plus for trying to make the panel objective.”

Their three major conclusions:

  •  “There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.
  • “The ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans.
  • “The sounds emitted by wind turbines are not unique. There is no reason to believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds and the panel’s experience with sound exposures in occupational settings, that sounds from wind turbines could plausibly have direct adverse health consequences.”

Ashland hospital, ahead of biomass curve, saves money

From an article by Joe Cadotte on BusinessNorth.com:

An idea sketched on a napkin inside an Ashland restaurant 27 years ago has transformed the Memorial Medical Center into one of only two or three hospitals nationally that runs off of waste wood.

With 99 percent of the hospital’s energy needs coming from wood that might otherwise have been discarded, the Ashland hospital is many steps ahead of the biomass trend we’re seeing today.

In 1984, MMC administrators were looking for ways to restrain health care costs. Their plan was to use a wood burning boiler to supplement three gas boilers that were installed in 1972 when the facility was built. . . .

During its design phase, MMC Vice President Les Whiteaker was in charge of assessing the cost effectiveness of the boiler. “I thought it would take three to four years for the boiler to pay for itself,” he said. To his surprise, energy savings were sufficient to offset the $468,000 investment in just 30 months.

Over the years those savings have amounted to more than $6 million. By burning wood, the hospital annually saves $400,000, making medical services 22 percent less than the state average.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Renewable energy courses announced for 2011

Custer, WI - The Midwest Renewable Energy Association, an ISPQ Accredited renewable energy education provider, has just released their 2011 workshop schedule.

Solar electric, solar water heating and wind electric are now forms of energy that can be installed at a residence to supply a portion or all the energy needs of a home and still be connected to the utility grid in the traditional manner.

MREA courses walk consumers and installers though basics to the installation.

To get find more information on how you can participate in this energy form, check out the MREA’s web site for a course near you or call 715-592-6595.

GreenWhey, Turtle Lake, to break ground for digester

From an article by Heidi Clausen in The Country Today:

TURTLE LAKE - After some setbacks, ground will be broken this spring for an anaerobic cogeneration facility aimed at solving a growing dilemma for northwestern Wisconsin dairy plants.

GreenWhey Energy Inc. is on target to begin construction in late March or early April on a 70,000-square-foot digester plant in Turtle Lake that will recycle wastewater from dairy and food processing, turning it into renewable energy and fertilizer.

The plant, scheduled to be operating by Nov. 1, will employ eight to 10 people.

Along with helping the dairy industry turn a liability into a commodity, the plant is designed to reduce the load on Turtle Lake's wastewater treatment plant.

GreenWhey is a privately held company spearheaded by Tom Ludy, who founded Lake Country Dairy in Turtle Lake in 2001.

Ludy outlined the company's plans in a public meeting Jan. 25 attended by about 50 people in Turtle Lake. Ludy said the meeting was held to address any concerns about the project before construction begins.

GreenWhey would be the second project of its kind in Wisconsin and is unique in its number of investors, Ludy said. A similar whey digester facility at Kraft Foods in Beaver Dam is owned by the municipality.
State officials and dairy companies across Wisconsin are watching the GreenWhey project closely in hopes that this type of project could help the dairy industry manage wastewater more sustainably.

The approximately $15 million project is being financed by private investors, grants and low-interest government loans.

Proposed wind-energy ban threatens Cashton wind project

From an article by Kevin Lee in The Daily Reporter:

MADISON — Local contractors seeking to build a new wave of wind energy sites are still holding their collective breath.

Gov. Scott Walker has put the brakes on legislation to push back the minimum distance between wind turbines and property lines, but a joint legislative committee may take up the matter on Wednesday.

Wes Slaymaker, who is helping to construct the Cashton Greens wind energy site in Monroe County, said Walker's legislation would have disrupted proposed projects preparing for construction.

"As (the proposal) was written, it was kind of a moratorium on wind (energy) in the state. So I guess there is still a bit of a cloud, but now the cloud has moved over to the edge of the horizon, it's not right over the top of our heads," he said.

As of now, a state rule that takes effect in March will establish that wind sites must be 1,250 feet away from property lines. Walker wanted to push that distance back to 1,800 feet, which energy wind advocates say would be among the most restrictive limits in the country.

The tougher siting restriction, one of the proposals the governor pushed as part of his special session to improve the state's economy, has not received a public committee hearing, a typical first step for new legislation.

"We'll pursue action with the Legislature outside of the special session," Walker said. "But again, I want to see the wind industry like any other industry be able to be effective here in the state of Wisconsin. I just want to find a way to balance that with the needs of individual property rights in the state as well."

Business associations clash over wind siting rules

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

The state Legislature moved with remarkable speed during its special session to enact proposals advocated by Gov. Scott Walker.

The single great exception: a bill to restrict development of wind farms.

Of 10 bills considered by the Legislature in the special session that began Jan. 4, the wind siting bill is the only one that didn't clear the state Assembly.

Legislative leaders last week decided to stop consideration of the Walker bill, saying they would move to address wind siting in a different way. The move came one week after Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business lobby, announced its opposition to the wind siting bill. It's the only plank of Walker's special session platform that WMC opposed.

The energy proposal runs counter to Walker's jobs agenda because it threatens to block several large wind power projects, with an investment valued at $500 million, this year and next, wind power advocates say. But Walker is concerned about the cost of wind power and says the state needs to have a better balance between wind development and property rights. . . .

The Wisconsin Realtors Association said it worked with Walker's transition team to craft a proposal that would effectively block the PSC's standard, which was established after eight months of study. The Concerned Realtors Committee was a key backer of Walker's gubernatorial campaign, donating more than $43,000 in 2010, campaign finance records show.

The governor's bill was backed by the Wisconsin Builders Association and Wisconsin Towns Association as well as local community groups that have organized to block wind farms, such as the one Chicago-based Invenergy has proposed in Brown County. . . .

The focus on the issue now shifts to a public hearing Wednesday before a legislative committee that reviews rules like the one forwarded by the PSC.

"There are still members of our caucus who have an interest in making a change," said Andrew Welhouse, spokesman for state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau). "The final discussions on what that change is and what route that change is going to take through the Legislature is not determined. It's still a work in progress."

"There are lots of discussions going on on how to come up with a compromise," state Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) said.

He considers the 1,250-foot setback insufficient. But Cowles, who was the author of a bill that resulted in more renewable energy springing up across the state, doesn't want to see wind development halted.

The Walker bill was met with a barrage of criticism, not only from WMC but also from wind energy developers, advocacy groups and wind energy manufacturer Tower Tech Systems in Manitowoc, which President Barack Obama visited last month. Tower Tech joined other suppliers in raising concerns about the chilling effect the bill would have on jobs and investment.

Talk of a compromise doesn't please Jeff Anthony, a former We Energies renewable energy strategist who is now director of business development at the American Wind Energy Association.

"From our perspective, the compromise is what we've been working on the past two years," Anthony said. "The compromise went through the legislative process and the regulatory process."

Wind developers initially sought a setback of 1,000 feet from homes before the PSC adopted a 1,250-foot setback.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gov. Walker's office to keep pushing new wind turbine rules

From a story on WTAQ, Madison:

MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker’s office says it will keep trying to limit the locating of new wind energy farms in Wisconsin – even though his own Republicans in the Legislature are not going along with it for now.

Spokesman Cullen Werwie says Walker will try to get the state Public Service Commission to adopt his proposal. That’s after Republican legislative leaders said they wanted more time to review the impact.

Walker wants wind turbines to be at least 1,800 feet away from neighboring homes, instead of the current 1,250 feet. The Wisconsin Realtors Association pushed for the change.

Walker said it would help property owners who say the turbines cause too much noise and flickering light. But the wind energy industry says it would be the most restrictive setback in the nation – and they’re calling it a de-facto ban on new wind energy projects.

The group Renew Wisconsin says it could put up to $1.8 billion worth of future wind projects in jeopardy. And Denise Bode of the American Wind Energy Association said it would make a mockery of Walker’s claim that Wisconsin is “open for business.”

Gov. Walker's office to keep pushing new wind turbine rules

From a story on WTAQ, Madison:

MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker’s office says it will keep trying to limit the locating of new wind energy farms in Wisconsin – even though his own Republicans in the Legislature are not going along with it for now.

Spokesman Cullen Werwie says Walker will try to get the state Public Service Commission to adopt his proposal. That’s after Republican legislative leaders said they wanted more time to review the impact.

Walker wants wind turbines to be at least 1,800 feet away from neighboring homes, instead of the current 1,250 feet. The Wisconsin Realtors Association pushed for the change.

Walker said it would help property owners who say the turbines cause too much noise and flickering light. But the wind energy industry says it would be the most restrictive setback in the nation – and they’re calling it a de-facto ban on new wind energy projects.

The group Renew Wisconsin says it could put up to $1.8 billion worth of future wind projects in jeopardy. And Denise Bode of the American Wind Energy Association said it would make a mockery of Walker’s claim that Wisconsin is “open for business.”

Gov. Walker's office to keep pushing new wind turbine rules

From a story on WTAQ, Madison:

MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - Governor Scott Walker’s office says it will keep trying to limit the locating of new wind energy farms in Wisconsin – even though his own Republicans in the Legislature are not going along with it for now.

Spokesman Cullen Werwie says Walker will try to get the state Public Service Commission to adopt his proposal. That’s after Republican legislative leaders said they wanted more time to review the impact.

Walker wants wind turbines to be at least 1,800 feet away from neighboring homes, instead of the current 1,250 feet. The Wisconsin Realtors Association pushed for the change.

Walker said it would help property owners who say the turbines cause too much noise and flickering light. But the wind energy industry says it would be the most restrictive setback in the nation – and they’re calling it a de-facto ban on new wind energy projects.

The group Renew Wisconsin says it could put up to $1.8 billion worth of future wind projects in jeopardy. And Denise Bode of the American Wind Energy Association said it would make a mockery of Walker’s claim that Wisconsin is “open for business.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Will Wisconsin's emerging technologies survive under Walker?

From an article by Mike Ivey in The Capital Times:

When President Obama toured the state last week, he visited two companies in Manitowoc to promote Wisconsin's high-tech, clean-energy economy.

First, the president stopped at Tower Tech Systems, which manufactures utility-scale wind towers. Then he toured Orion Energy Systems, which makes high-efficiency lighting and solar-focused products.

"These aren't just good jobs that can help you pay the bills and support your families," the president told some 200 workers at Orion. "They're jobs that are good for all of us; that will make our energy bills cheaper; that will make our planet safer; that will sharpen America's competitive edge in the world."

But some are wondering whether Gov. Scott Walker, despite his "open for business" mantra, and the new Legislature share the same enthusiasm for emerging technologies and the promise of high-paying jobs.

During his first month in office, Walker has proposed strict rules that could hamper the wind power industry, nixed the Charter Street Biomass Project on the UW-Madison campus and returned more than $800 million in federal money for upgrading Wisconsin's passenger and freight rail infrastructure. There's also talk about limiting embryonic stem cell research, an issue that's more symbolic than substantive.

Put together, it's not exactly what economic development advocates were hoping to see from a governor who's vowed to create 250,000 new private sector jobs.

"I don't want to get in trouble here ... but there's some hand-wringing among our members," says Bryan Renk, who heads BioForward, a trade association for the state's bioscience and biofuel industry.

Both Gov. Tommy Thompson and Gov. Jim Doyle were big supporters of emerging technologies. Doyle in particular backed clean-energy initiatives and pushed a sweeping renewable energy bill in his last term that eventually died in the Legislature.

Conservation Voters respond to Walker's State of the State speech

Madison – Kerry Schumann, Executive Director of Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters issued the following statement in response to Governor Walker’s State of the State address:

We couldn’t agree more with Governor Walker’s goal of leaving an even better Wisconsin to our children and grandchildren. As the nation as a whole has discovered, the key to accomplishing that goal lies in fully participating in the clean energy economy. Governor Walker’s failure to mention this opportunity paired with his actions in recent weeks speaks volumes.

In his short time as Governor, Governor Walker has introduced legislation to eliminate Wisconsin’s $400 million wind industry, rejected $800 million in mass transit funding (sending jobs to Illinois in the process), and prevented a coal power plant from transitioning to a plant run on homegrown, Wisconsin biofuels.

This week, understandably, we are taking a lot of advice from Vince Lombardi. Wisconsin would do well to remember this one, “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.”

It’s time Wisconsin quit treating the clean energy economy as an impossibility. Instead, we must commit - with a “singleness of focus” - to creating the kinds of jobs that will sustain ours and future generations.

###

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to electing conservation leaders to the state legislature and encouraging lawmakers to champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin’s public health and natural resources. More information can be found at http://conservationvoters.org.

Wind siting proposal contradicts governor's job growth claims

From a letter to the editor of the Dun County News by Carol Johnson, Forest:

As a resident of the State of Wisconsin, I’m extremely disappointed to hear that Governor Walker is proposing ridiculously restrictive setbacks for wind turbines that will make it virtually impossible to build a wind farm anywhere in the state. I understand he is doing this as a “payback” to campaign contributors — Realtors.

As someone who lives in a farming community, I have known Wisconsin government to be “farmer friendly.” Apparently, that is a thing of the past. I guess Walker would like our state to be known as “realtor friendly.”

Wind farms help the farming community remain a farming community; housing developments destroy farming communities. People should know that our representatives worked very diligently to develop reasonable wind turbine siting guidelines for the state.

The governor’s proposal is an attempt to derail those siting guidelines, even though they were prepared with the involvement of many stakeholders, including the general public in public hearings.

Our energy future in this country has been referred to as one of the most important elements of homeland security. The State of Wisconsin has an opportunity to be part of an energy future that includes one of the most viable forms of green energy — wind.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wind farm going up as scheduled

From an article by Lyn Jerde in the Portage Daily Register:

What could be Wisconsin's largest wind energy project is going up as scheduled, despite a proposal from Gov. Scott Walker that could make future wind farms more challenging to build in the state.

The governor's proposal calls for a minimum setback of 1,800 feet between neighboring property and the turbine towers in a "large wind energy system" (300 kilowatts or more).

Glacier Hills is a We Energies project whose 90 turbines, on approximately 17,350 acres in the towns of Randolph and Scott, could generate up to 207 megawatts. Construction - including roads leading to the tower sites and a headquarters on Columbia County Highway H in the town of Scott - started in May, and continues this winter with the installation of underground connections that will eventually link each of the turbines to the power grid. The 400-foot towers are scheduled to be built starting this spring.

Andrew Hesselbach, We Energies wind farm project manager, said any new setback rules would not affect the construction of Glacier Hills, which received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in January 2010.

And, he noted, "Glacier Hills is already half-completed."

Walker's proposal, as outlined in Assembly Bill 9, calls for "the setback distance of at least 1,800 feet," unless the owners properties adjoining the site where a tower is planned, or property owners separated from the site's land by a road, agree in writing to a setback of less than 1,800 feet.

Hesselbach was one of 15 members of a wind siting council that the PSC last March to advise the commission on statewide setback rules for wind turbine towers - rules that were scheduled to go into effect March 1.

Those rules set 1,250 feet as a minimum setback - the same setback specified in the PSC's "certificate of public convenience and necessity" that gave the go-ahead for construction of Glacier Hills.

35 Milwaukee County cars now hybrids

From an article in The Daily Reporter:

Milwaukee County’s vehicle fleet is becoming more fuel-efficient, thanks to an infusion of Ford Fusion Hybrid vehicles unveiled Monday at Milwaukee County’s Fleet Maintenance facility.

The vehicles will replace 35 aging Chevy Impalas currently used in a variety of county departments that were driven a total of 332,500 miles and cost nearly $40,000 in fuel annually, according to a news release from acting Milwaukee County Executive Lee Holloway.

The new hybrid vehicles are estimated to cost $26,000 in fuel annually — a 35 percent fuel savings – and will save more than 4,400 gallons of petroleum per year, according to the release.