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Friday, August 3, 2012

No significant impact from proposed Highland Wind Farm in St. Croix County

From a story by Jeff Holmquist in the Pierce County Herald:

Developers of the proposed Highland Wind Farm in the Town of Forest, Wis. will not be required to complete an environmental impact statement.

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin issued a decision on the possible EIS requirement on July 25.

While the five-page document outlines several potential impacts that the wind farm project could have on landowners and the surrounding landscape, its conclusion is that there is “no significant impact” expected from the proposal.

Forcing an EIS typically slows down the approval process for such projects. With last week’s decision, final approval of the 41-turbine wind farm might come in the next few months.

Jay Mundinger, founding principal of the Highland Wind Farm project, said he was very pleased with the news.

Highland developers have worked with expert consultants to design and install the project in such a way that it would have little or no impact on the community, Mundinger said. He said the PSC apparently recognized that is the case as well.

“We’ve worked hard to protect the environment,” he said.

The PSC’s preliminary environmental assessment acknowledged that the large turbines would “affect the visual character” of the township. There may also be some increase in “ambient noise” near the turbines and “shadow flicker” (the blinking created on homes as the sun is blocked by the twirling blades) when the project is installed, the report concedes. There would also likely be some bird and bat losses as a result of the turning turbines, the report states.

But taking everything into consideration, the report’s author, Environmental Planning Analyst Kathy Zuelsdorff, concluded that the impacts are “typical of modern wind projects” and “would not result in significant environmental effects on the human environment.”

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