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Towns plan for new wind siting law

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GINA R. HEINE
October 3, 2009
— Officials in Union and Magnolia townships consider moratoriums on wind turbines to be the temporary answer in response to a new state law.

Wind developer EcoEnergy has proposed projects in both communities.


Local residents are concerned the new process on siting wind energy systems signed into law this week will erase their work to protect themselves from negative effects.


Moratorium action includes:


-- Union Plan Commission last month recommended the town board start a one-year moratorium. On Thursday night, the town board approved the moratorium, which will expire on Oct. 7, 2010.


Union officials feel confident in their ordinance if it were challenged on its merits, but with uncertainties about the state writing new laws, “we just thought (the moratorium) was the prudent thing to do,” plan commission co-chair Doug Zweizig said.


-- Magnolia Planning and Zoning will discuss and likely make a recommendation to the town board on a moratorium at its meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday. The town board will consider the moratorium at a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13.


“We just really want to see where we stand with the state,” Magnolia town board member Dave Olsen said. “It seems as though they want to take the rights away to site the turbines, but they don’t want the responsibility that goes with it—to monitor the low-frequency sound, to look after the local residents.”


On Thursday, Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law Senate Bill 185, which puts the siting of wind projects under 100 megawatts into the hands of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. Once the statewide siting rules are written, they will overturn local ordinances.


Projects 100 megawatts or more already go through the PSC.


PSC officials will appoint a committee to advise them on siting rules. No timeline has been established, a PSC spokeswoman said.


People suggested to Zweizig, the Union Plan Commission co-chair, that he should be on the committee, so he sent a letter of interest to the PSC and Doyle’s office. He hasn’t received a response.


The committee will comprise representatives of wind energy system developers, political subdivisions, the public, energy and environmental groups, realtors and land owners who live adjacent to or in the vicinity of wind energy systems and who have not receive compensation by or on behalf of owners, operators or developers of wind energy systems.



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