Send your support for wind siting reform
One of the proposals drafted by the Electric Generation work group of the Global Warming Task Force calls for removing impediments to the permitting of wind energy projects in Wisconsin. It is titled: Wind Siting Reform. It is posted on the DNR’s Global Warming Task Force web site: http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/gtfgw.
Please read through it and post your positive comments on it. Comments are due by December 8.
This proposal elicited the unanimous support of the Electric Generation workgroup, which regard this as an enabling policy necessary to meet the supply requirements of an enhanced renewable energy standard while capturing the economic benefits from in-state wind generation.
Please show your support for utility-scale renewable energy by submitting comments on the Wind Siting Reform proposal at the Task Force web site.
SUMMARY OF PROBLEM
Currently, all wind energy proposals under 100 megawatts are reviewed at the local level. Though state law prohibits local jurisdictions from restricting wind development unless the regulations serve to protect public health and safety, there are no agreed-upon standards for satisfying that requirement. As a consequence, wind developers often encounter local regulatory requirements that delay projects and increase their costs. A number of jurisdictions have adopted ordinances that make it difficult if not impossible for developers to comply with all the restrictions. Approximately 400 megawatts of planned wind developments are stalled across Wisconsin, due to midstream changes in regulations and procedures. This number is bound to increase unless the Legislature and governor reform permitting conditions.
SUMMARY OF REFORMS SOUGHT
The two most significant reforms we seek would:
+ Establish permitting standards that are uniformly applied by local governments to all commercial wind energy projects, regardless of size and location; and
+ Create an optional Public Service Commission review process for wind energy projects under 100 MW.
Under RENEW’s proposed reforms, all issues relating to public health and safety would be evaluated in a Public Service Commission (PSC) proceeding, and then codified by rule into permitting standards (e.g., setback distances, sound output) which would be uniformly applied by all state and local authorities. The rulemaking would also specify the studies that a developer would be required to submit and define the developer’s financial obligations regarding such matters as decommissioning and road repair. All commercial wind projects would need to conform to these standards. The reforms would also provide wind developers the option of going to the PSC for a permit to build installations less than 100 MW. This option is necessary to overcome situations where local interests hostile to the project control the decision-making process.
NEED FOR SITING REFORM
Wind is the only renewable energy resource that can scale up to meet the utilities’ renewable energy requirements. RENEW expects that 90% of the energy needed to meet the 10% statewide target will be generated with wind. The single biggest constraint to increasing wind generation in Wisconsin is the permitting environment, which is far more problematic here than in neighboring states.
Siting reform’s specific benefits to wind developers working in Wisconsin are:
+ The security of adhering to rules and procedures that won’t change while the project is under development or application is under review;
+ Avoided permitting and legal expenses that make projects uneconomical;
+ Shorter project development timetables.
Specific benefits to ratepayers, taxpayers, and the environment are:
+ Higher probability of meeting Wisconsin’s current renewable energy goal of 10% by 2015 as well as any successor target after that; and
+ Increased revenues flowing to local governments and landowners, more orders for Wisconsin component manufacturers, and more jobs created in construction, transportation and O&M;
+ More opportunities for building community-scale wind installations, such as the six-turbine, 9 MW wind project proposed in the Town of Springfield in Dane County.