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Spring Valley considering ban on wind turbines

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GINA R. HEINE
June 4, 2011
— Town officials in Spring Valley are considering a new moratorium on wind turbines after the largest wind company in North America inquired about town wind ordinances.

The town board will discuss and likely vote on a moratorium at its Monday, June 13, meeting, Clerk Judy Albright said.


Spring Valley is among several area townships that wrote wind moratoriums while new rules to regulate wind projects less than 100-megawatts are decided at the state level.


Town officials discovered their previous moratorium expired Dec. 1 after Ted Weissman of NextEra Energy recently inquired about ordinances related to wind development and the process for placing a met tower.


A met tower gathers weather data to help wind developers determine if a site is good for development.


Weissman said he couldn’t comment but the company was looking at the area and hadn’t made any decisions. A company spokesman, however, said NextEra is not pursuing a met tower in Rock County.


Spokesman Steve Stengel said Weissman might have conducted some inquiries, but “we are not proposing it at this point,” he said. “What may or may not happen in the future (is) all speculation.”


NextEra owns and operates two wind farms in Wisconsin: 36 turbines at Butler Ridge Wind Energy Center in Dodge County and 20 turbines at Montfort Wind Energy Center in Iowa County.


Neighboring townships Magnolia and Union became possible sites for wind turbines a few years ago, and one met tower was placed in each town to gather data.


A spokeswoman for Acciona, the company that eyed those townships, said this week it is not pursuing “the early stage development project in Union and Magnolia. This enables (Acciona) to focus efforts and resources on other projects that are a better fit for their portfolio.”


Developers would be interested in hooking into the major transmission line that runs east-west through the northern part of Spring Valley, town officials said.


Smaller wind projects are permitted through local ordinances until lawmakers enact statewide rules.


Under state law, the Public Service Commission has to develop the rules, and a committee worked through most of last year to write the rules. When the rules were set to take effect in March, Republican lawmakers suspended them. It’s now up to legislators to approve new rules by May 2012 or the suspended rules would go into effect, a PSC spokesman said.


Republican Sen. Frank Lasee has proposed a bill that would add additional requirements to the PSC rules. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy, Biotechnology and Consumer Protection, but no hearing is scheduled.


If you go

The town board will discuss and likely vote on a wind moratorium at its 7 p.m. meeting Monday, June 13, at the Orfordville Fire Department, 173 N. Wright St., Orfordville.



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