Wind farm bill runs out of gas

Posted on March 13, 2008. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Jason Stein in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Wind farm skeptic Lynda Barry-Kawula was already concerned about a bill that would dramatically expand the state ‘s role in deciding where the towering stands of windmills should be built. Adding to her discomfort was the gale-force speed with which the bill almost blew through the Legislature Wednesday.“I don ‘t understand what the rush is, ” said Barry-Kawula, who ‘s concerned a proposed wind farm near Evansville in the town of Magnolia in Rock County could be built near her home. “I ‘d like to know what we ‘re buying. “Supporters appeared poised to pass the bill Wednesday, less than two weeks after it was introduced. But it was blocked at the last minute by a bipartisan group of senators concerned about whether the bill had been properly vetted. . . .

Eric Callisto, an official with the state Public Service Commission, noted the wind farm bill has the support of the agency ‘s three commissioners, Gov. Jim Doyle, the state ‘s business lobby and some environmental groups.

That ‘s because it addresses concerns from developers who want predictable rules about whether wind farms — and the renewable energy they bring — would be approved, he said.

“Any time you have Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Sierra Club supporting the same piece of legislation, you know you have something that should get done quickly and has broad support, ” said Callisto, executive assistant to PSC chairman Dan Ebert. “Lots of good legislation gets done at the end of the session. This is just that kind of piece. ”

Now, the decision to allow developers to build a wind farm is left to local governments. Under the bill, the PSC would work with other interested groups to develop statewide standards that local governments would have to follow in passing ordinances and making decisions on wind farms. If landowners or developers are unhappy with a local government ‘s decision, they could appeal to the PSC and, after that, to state courts.

The bill was effectively killed Wednesday when it was referred back to a scheduling committee. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston, said there were no plans to bring it to the floor today, the last day of the Legislature ‘s regularly scheduled session.


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