Janesville67.6°

Wind measurement tower proposed in Union Township

Print Print
GINA R. HEINE
September 23, 2008
— EcoEnergy wants to erect a wind measurement tower in Union Township despite a town ordinance in the works that would eliminate nearly all suitable locations for wind turbines.

"We're very interested in putting up this wind measure to evaluate wind resources in that area," said Curt Bjurlin, EcoEnergy project developer.


EcoEnergy has proposed building three turbines in the township with Wisconsin Public Power Inc. to supply power to Evansville Water and Light customers.


The 197-foot measurement tower would be nearly identical to one that's been collecting wind data since April 2007 at County B and Highway 213 in Magnolia Township.


The Union Plan Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on a conditional-use permit for the tower at its 7 p.m. meeting Thursday at the Eager Free Public Library, 39 W. Main St., Evansville.


Donald Maas, 7337 N. Pleasant Prairie Road, Evansville, and Harold and Mary Abey, 7828 N. Highway 104, Evansville, applied for the permit to host the tower on their adjoining properties on the southeast corner of County C and Highway 104.


The permit is requested for 12 months "for a wind measurement tower to collect information for wind turbine feasibility," according to the application. The tower would be constructed between Oct. 5 and Nov. 5, according to the application.


The tower application would be renewed annually and be up for at least a year, Bjurlin said.


"The most important piece of information for us at this point is the actual wind data itself," Bjurlin said. "We have a very good evaluation of wind data from the met tower in Magnolia, but in order to fully evaluate the resource, we need to have a local tower. That's really the next big step."


Meanwhile, the plan commission is wrapping up its work on an ordinance regulating large wind turbines to recommend to the town board. That vote likely will take place at the Thursday, Oct. 30, meeting, commission member Doug Zweizig said.


The draft ordinance restricts turbines from being built within a half mile of homes or closer than 1,000 feet from property lines, though willing landowners can have turbines placed closer to their homes, Zweizig said.


When the town's study committee presented its draft ordinance early this year, Bjurlin told The Janesville Gazette the proposed setbacks would leave "very, very little land" available, "and certainly not enough for a renewable energy project."


Bjurlin did not want to speculate on how the revised draft ordinance would impact EcoEnergy's project.


"(I'd) rather leave any comments on future ordinances to a later date," he said.


Center Township

Bjurlin said EcoEnergy is "not actively looking at" putting wind turbines in Center Township, where EcoEnergy submitted three locations to the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct aeronautical studies for wind turbines, according to FAA records.


The FAA determines if a structures would interfere with aircraft flight patterns, approaches and departures from airports, said Tony Molinaro, FAA spokesman for the Great Lakes region.


When asked if the requests for FAA studies meant a project is being planned, Bjurlin said, "No, we're not actively looking at putting turbines up there."


He said it was just a test to see what the potential impact is and "where that potential impact may occur." He said the company picked the three highest locations they could find in the area.


The FAA approved two of the three locations—all near the area of County A at Highway 184—but determined one location could cause interference.


Bjurlin said EcoEnergy requested permission from the landowners to submit the studies, but each of the landowners on the applications—Wayne Udulutch, Janet Kassell and Thomas Sayre—said they found out about the studies through other sources.


Udulutch, the Town of Center chairman, said his town has a committee working to draft an ordinance to regulate wind turbines. The town has a moratorium in place until June 2009. No timetable is set, and the group is gathering facts, Udulutch said.


IF YOU GO

The Union Plan Commission will hold a public hearing and vote on an application for a conditional-use permit for a wind measurement tower at its meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Eager Free Public Library, 39 W. Main St., Evansville.


The application for the 197-foot tower would be for one year.



Print Print