Wind farm not welcome in Town of Union

Posted on November 4, 2008. Filed under: Wind |


From an article by Paul Snyder in The Daily Reporter:

Filling what it argues is a void in the state’s vetting of wind-power projects, the town of Union is marking its turf with a proposed ordinance essentially outlawing such projects.

“I think the state of Wisconsin has shown it’s going to do what (wind-farm development) companies want,” said Tom Alisankus, Union municipal judge and resident. “I think they look at these big wind-farm projects and just hope there won’t be enough resistance at the local level to slow them down.

“But I think they’ll find there’s fight in some of these places, and Union is one of them.”

Elgin, Ill.-based EcoEnergy Engineering LLC wants to build three turbines generating 4.5 megawatts, far below the 100 megawatt limit required for state approval. The three towers in Union would provide new power to Evansville Water & Light Department customers.

The Plan Commission last week recommended an ordinance requiring half-mile setbacks from property lines for wind-farm developments, effectively leaving little to no developable space in the town without consent from property owners.

The Town Board still must approve it, although that doesn’t look to be a tall order.

Both Town Chairman Kendall Schneider and Town Supervisor Donald Krajeck said the three towers would be out of place in Union.

“You need a 6 mph wind to fly a box kite,” Schneider said. “You only get that on a few days here. These turbines need a 9.5 mph wind to get going.”

Curt Bjurlin, EcoEnergy’s wind project developer, was unavailable to comment on the company’s plans if the town passes the ordinance. But EcoEnergy has maintained an active interest in the area.

In addition to recently building a wind-measurement tower in Union, EcoEnergy also is chasing a larger wind development in nearby Magnolia. That farm would generate more than 100 megawatts and already is facing strong local opposition.

With a goal to generate 25 percent of the state’s energy from renewable resources by 2025, lawmakers have taken an avid interest in wind power in recent years. While legislation to create a statewide standard for siting wind farms failed in the last session, several lawmakers said it will again be on the table in the upcoming session.

But Krajeck said the state should stay away.

“I would like to see more control at the local level,” he said. “Every local situation is different and has to be looked at on its own.”

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