The council is a couple weeks into its work and will keep an intense schedule of meetings to meet its goal of completing work by early June, Zweizig said.

Legislators approved a bill last fall to allow the Public Service Commission to create rules to regulate wind projects statewide. The law called for a council to draft the rules, and members needed to be representatives of specific categories.

The 15-member council includes representatives of the energy industry, uncompensated landowners, wind developers, real estate agents, medical and research experts, environmentalists and local government.

Zweizig, co-chairman of the Union Plan Commission, worked on the special committee that drafted Union’s wind ordinance. He was elected vice chairman of the state wind council, and Dan Ebert, a vice president of WPPI Energy, is chairman.

The council’s work will go to the PSC, which must have two hearings. Final copies of the siting standards will go through relevant legislative committees for revisions before taking effect, Zweizig said.

Before the new law, wind projects under 100 megawatts went through local siting ordinances, while projects 100 megawatts and larger went to the PSC for approval.

The council brings people from competing interests, so Ebert has laid out a process to have council members agree on general guiding principles before drilling into the details, Zweizig said.

One of the most contentious aspects likely will be setback distances, which have strong implications on land use, property rights and how many turbines can be sited in an area, he said.

Having uniform guidelines makes sense, he said, but they should be as good as Union’s ordinance.

Union’s ordinance prohibits construction of turbines within a half-mile of occupied structures, but the setback may be reduced to 1,000 feet with permission from property owners or neighbors.

The study committee that wrote the ordinance spent months researching health and safety aspects of setback distances and sound levels. The result was an ordinance that writers said would be legally defendable.

Zweizig said he’s not sure what the council’s regulations will look like.

“But it will be fairly quick. In a couple months, we should know,” he said.

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