Archive for December, 2007
From an article by Alyssa Waters in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:
After more than a year of research and discussion by committee, the Trempealeau County Board recently approved a wind ordinance that essentially would prevent commercial wind turbines from being built in the county.
The ordinance requires developers to place wind turbines taller than 150 feet one mile or more from neighboring residences, schools, hospitals and businesses. It’s described as the longest setback distance imposed to date by a local government in the state, which board member Doug Winters says is unfortunate.
Winters, who is from Trempealeau, voted against the proposed ordinance Dec. 17 after he and a handful of others attempted to amend the ordinance. That amendment was rejected.
The ordinance passed on a 10-6 vote.
“I voted against it because it was too restrictive,” Winters said.
Paul Halderson of Galesville also voted against the ordinance and thinks it’s too restrictive.
“I’m greatly disappointed that Trempealeau County can not do their share to participate in green energy,” he said. “I spoke in the meeting that it’s our responsibility to do our fair share.”
Halderson said developers will now write Trempealeau County off and move to other counties, but Winters said he thinks the decision may be overturned at some point.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From a letter to the editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette by Ann Younger-Crandall, program manager for ThedaStar Air Medical in Neenah:
There has been much debate about the placement of wind turbines in Calumet County and their effect on air medical transport, specifically ThedaStar Air Medical, within the county.
I understand this has been a topic of controversy for more than a year in Calumet County. I have had numerous inquiries from citizens, the sheriff’s department, pilots and hospital administrators from Calumet County.
My message to all involved has remained constant: ThedaStar will continue to fly within Calumet County directly to accident scenes as requested or to Calumet Medical Center, even after the wind turbines are constructed.
When ThedaStar flies from Neenah to Calumet Medical Center, our typical flight altitude is approximately 1,000 feet above the ground. This is well above the height of the wind turbine blades and should not affect our flight patterns.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From an article by Deb Fitzgerald in the Door County Advocate:
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The Door County Board of Supervisors tabled until January a proposed, countywide wind energy ordinance that would regulate all wind turbines exceeding 170 feet.
The supervisors said they wanted the extra month to study the ordinance recommended by the Resource Planning Committee Dec. 13.
The decision to table the issue came after an earlier vote when the supervisors shot down the ordinance.
Later in the meeting, the supervisors brought the ordinance back up for reconsideration, which led to the vote to table the ordinance until January.
The issues of contention for the supervisors who voted to table the ordinance were the noise maximums and the setback requirements.
They are the same issues that the town of Clay Banks has objected to throughout the county’s process of revising a current wind energy ordinance that�s been on the books since 2001.
An article by Susan Squires in the Green Bay Press Gazette:
CHILTON — A special committee’s recommendations for governing wind energy will make it impossible to farm wind in Calumet County, a developer said Tuesday.
County Board Chairman Merlin Gentz appointed the committee to advise him after months of controversy over 400-foot wind turbines two developers want to erect in the towns of Chilton, Stockbridge and Brothertown. Among its recommendations are: prohibiting “flicker” from the turbines on roads with daily traffic counts of 500 or more; requiring 1,800 feet between turbines and homes, schools, parks and businesses; and limiting noise.
Any one of those restrictions would jeopardize the project EcoEnergy LLC plans, Wisconsin Projects Director Curt Bjurlin said.
“Together,” he said, “they would make wind energy in Calumet County impossible.”
Gentz formed the committee after the county imposed a 120-day moratorium on turbine permits in September. He attempted to appoint an equal mix of wind proponents and skeptics to the group, which met 10 times.
Its charge was to study turbines’ effects on health and safety, the only reasons local governments can restrict wind farm development, and propose amendments to the wind ordinance the county adopted in 2006.
He intends to put the recommendations in resolution form and take them to the County Board next month.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
While the Calumet County board passed restrictions to prevent wind energy projects in the county, a recent survey shows that wind energy wins strong support from county residents:
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MADISON, Wis. – Nov. 5, 2007 – A new public opinion survey released today shows 70 percent of Calumet County voters favor a proposal to build a wind farm in the county, while only 19 percent are opposed to the project. Forty-two percent of those asked said they “strongly favored” building wind farms in Calumet County. The survey was commissioned by EcoEnergy.
“We conducted this survey to get an accurate portrayal of how the people of Calumet County feel about wind power and our proposed projects – EcoMet and the Wisconsin Public Power New Holstein Project,” said Wes Slaymaker, EcoEnergy vice president of wind development. “This survey shows while there may be a vocal group opposing the projects, a vast majority of the county’s residents support wind farms as a safe way to generate clean, renewable energy that can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and prevent global warming.”
When the county is broken down into four geographical regions, more respondents in every section support the proposal than oppose it – even in the section that includes the proposed wind farm sites. The Appleton/Menasha region had the highest level of support, with 90 percent favoring the project and only 5 percent opposing.
The Wisconsin State Journal ran this commentary from Michael Vickerman, RENEW’s executive director, as a guest column on September 3, 2007:
When FPL Energy’s windpower project in southwest Wisconsin was completed in 2001, it became the largest of its kind in the state. The 20 turbines visible from U.S. Highway 18 more than doubled Wisconsin’s wind generating capacity. Support for the Montfort project was rock-solid at every level, from local landowners to the Iowa County Board, and the windpower plant was approved without a dissenting vote.
Six years later Montfort still remains Wisconsin’s largest wind installation. While construction has started on two larger installations near Fond du Lac, local opponents slowed their progress with lawsuits. And, like a contagious disease, citizen litigiousness is spreading fast. In the last 18 months, lawsuits have been filed in Calumet and Manitowoc counties, each with the aim of stopping proposed windpower plants from being built.
In the face of local pressure, three counties—Manitowoc, Shawano and Door–adopted ordinances with setback requirements so stringent as to render commercial wind development impossible. The popular Montfort project, which continues to impress visitors who have never seen a wind farm before, could not be built in those jurisdictions now.
And the problem is spreading. A moratorium on wind turbines remains in effect in Trempealeau County while officials there finalize an arbitrarily restrictive set of rules that will effectively prevent turbines from being installed, including those designed for personal use.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC):
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Earlier this afternoon [December 14], the U.S. Senate passed the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007 by a vote of 79-14. The Farm Bill now moves to a House and Senate conference committee. It will be on a fast track, with House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson vowing to work through the holidays to finish the bill soon after Congress returns in January.
Energy Highlights . . .
The Senate Farm Bill is a good step in the right direction for energy programs, albeit with much less funding than in the House Farm Bill. Energy highlights include:
To help farmers and rural businesses save money and supply power to America, a better Section 9006 program (now renamed the Rural Energy for America Program – REAP) includes new energy technical assistance, larger loan guarantees, community wind incentives, and carveouts for small, replicable projects and digesters. ($230 million total versus $500 million in House Farm Bill.)
An overhauled biorefinery program to help defray the cost of first-generation cellulosic ethanol plants; also encourages existing biorefineries and industrial facilities to convert to biomass-based heat and power (“Rural Repowering”).
To help build feedstock supply for cellulosic biorefineries, an energy crop transition program that includes improved sustainability standards.
To help defray production costs, production incentives for advanced biofuels.
To develop a stronger knowledge base and help move energy crops from the laboratory to the fuel pump, funding and new priorities for the Biomass Research and Development program.
The Energy Title also includes funding for regional biomass crops and federal biobased product purchasing, a Sun Grant biomass program, and several advanced energy studies.
For the first time the Farm Bill also includes a significant energy tax title. These tax credits are primarily for development of cellulosic and other biofuels production, while also encouraging more community wind development and installation of smaller residential wind energy systems in rural areas.
. . . and Lowlights
On the negative side, the tax title includes $330 million of fossil fuel tax credits for coal-to-liquids, compressed natural gas and other non-biomass fuels used in cars and trucks. That credit has virtually nothing to do with agriculture, and the money would be better spent on renewable energy development in the Energy Title.
It’s All About Money
Funding the energy programs in the Farm Bill faces a serious challenge in the House-Senate Conference. Currently the funding for the House and Senate Energy Titles come from two completely different sources. That means that negotiators will need to decide how to fund the programs, and they will face intense pressure to cut the programs to pay for other programs.
Visit www.farmenergy.org for updates.
In the 2007 New North Report to the Community, Governor Jim Doyle gave the wind energy industry a strong statement of support:
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As Governor, one of my top priorities is ensuring Wisconsin remains one of the best places in the country to live, work, and raise a family. Here in Wisconsin, we enjoy a high quality of life, a pristine natural environment, top-notch public schools, technical colleges and universities, and a diverse economy with opportunities for businesses and job seekers alike.
Over the last several years, we’ve worked hard to create a business climate in this state that supports innovative businesses, attracts businesses to Wisconsin, and provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to get their ideas off the ground and competing in the global marketplace. . . .
The wind energy industry in the New North is playing a large role in making Wisconsin a national leader in renewable energy. With a strong manufacturing industry, wind energy-specific college programs, and transportation infrastructure, Wisconsin is one of the leading states in the country in developing the wind energy industry. . . .
A press release issued December 18 by RENEW Wisconsin and Clean Wisconsin:
Calling it an effective ban on commercial wind generators, Wisconsin clean energy advocates blasted Trempealeau County’s new wind ordinance, which was adopted Monday night on a vote of ten to six.
The county’s wind ordinance requires developers to place wind turbines at least one mile from neighboring residences, schools, hospitals, and businesses. This is the longest set back distance imposed to date by a local government in Wisconsin.
Speaking to the county board, RENEW Wisconsin Executive Director Michael Vickerman said that the ordinance “steers Trempealeau County toward a head-on collision with state energy policies, which designate wind power as a preferred energy source.”
RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide nonprofit organization, advocates for public policies and private initiatives to support renewable energy.
State policy favors wind power, because “it has shown itself to be a clean, safe and affordable energy option that helps reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce global warming emissions,” according to Ryan Schryver of Clean Wisconsin, an advocacy organization for clean water, air, and energy.
“Local governments, as well as the state, should be looking at ways to eliminate the barriers to renewable energy production instead of creating new obstacles for siting wind developments, as this ordinance does,” continued Schryber.
“This ordinance – all 16 pages of it – could have been boiled down to one sentence: No wind energy system greater than 150 feet in height will be permitted in Trempealeau County,” Vickerman told the county board.
“If every county were to adopt a wind ordinance as arbitrarily restrictive as the one before you, renewable energy development in Wisconsin would slow to a stand still,” Vickerman added.
Presenting an oversized map of Trempealeau County, Jim Naleid, representing Holmen-based AgWind Energy Partners, said that “There is not one square inch of land where a commercial wind turbine can be legally sited under this ordinance.”
AgWind Energy Partners, a wind farm developer, recently installed a meteorological tower in the county to measure wind speeds.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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