New front opens in Manitowoc: Pro wind mayor vs. anti-wind newspaper

Posted on February 6, 2009. Filed under: Wind |


After RENEW issued a news release condemning a Manitowoc County ordinance effectively prohibiting wind projects in the county, Manitowoc political leaders and the local newwspapers expressed different opinions on whether wind project siting should be control by local governments or by uniform state siting standards.

In the RENEW news release, Michael Vickerman said:

Suffice it to say that if every jurisdiction adopted Manitowoc County’s setback standards, there would not be a single commercial wind project operating in Wisconsin right now.

The Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter reported on the ordinance and the county executive’s anit-wind remarks:

Manitowoc County Executive Bob Ziegelbauer called the rejection the latest of many disputes over the project between the county and the company.

“They argue that our ordinance is too restrictive,” he said. “We think it’s reasonable and was created in good faith. This isn’t the final say in the matter by any means.”

Manitowoc County’s ordinance, adopted in 2004, calls for a minimum distance of 1,000 feet from a turbine to a property line. It also contains a noise restriction that turbines cannot create sound five decibels more than ambient noise.

“What does that mean?” Vickerman said. “If you fire up a leaf blower, that shoots up the ambient noise level 25 decibels. Do you measure it over crickets? What about a dog barking?”

Vickerman said the rule is an example of the way wind farm ordinances have been abused since the state ruled in 1994 that local governments can approve or deny the projects if they generate less than 100 megawatts.

In response to Ziegelbauer, who also represents Manitowoc as a state representative, RENEW board president Jenny Heinzen wrote to Ziegelbauer saying:

Manitowoc supports wind power in many respects. Companies like Tower Tech and Manitowoc Crane are prospering because of their connections to the wind industry. Orion Energy Systems recently obtained a permit from the City of Manitowoc to erect a large wind turbine at their new facility, and Manitowoc Public Utilities will likely be adding wind power to their energy portfolio. It’s ironic that this county, while supporting wind energy in so many ways, has also become notorious for writing ordinances that may as well say ‘no wind turbines allowed.’

Joining the fray, Manitowoc Mayor Kevin Crawford wrote in his weekly commentary:

What is baffling then is that with great “green job” employers like Manitowoc Cranes and Tower Tech located right here in the County Seat, why does the County Board have an ordinance that may as well state, “no wind turbines allowed”.

Tower Tech manufactures the towers on which wind turbines are mounted. The wind turbine generates electricity using the free and renewable resource: wind. Alternative and renewable energies are needed if we are going to rid ourselves of our dependence on foreign oil.

Manitowoc Cranes manufactures the lifting devices needed to erect wind towers.

Can you see the nexus then between not being able to erect a wind generator in Manitowoc County and jobs . . . .

Manitowoc is not the only place where wind towers can be manufactured. And by the way, they’re worth 2 million dollars each … that’s a lot of jobs.

Maybe its time for the County Board to rethink its “no wind turbine” stance.

Keeping people employed and families stable is everybody’s business.

Finally, the Herald Times Reporter editorialized:

We believe local governments are quite capable of deciding what is best for the people that live within them. If the state wants to have a role in local wind farm decisions, we feel it should be advisory only.

The state thus can maintain some degree of oversight, but the ultimate decision would be made by the people most directly affected — at the local level.

The state can do quite well in helping regulate large wind farm projects, like those in Fond du Lac and Columbia counties. It does not need to extend its long arm to smaller, community-based projects, unless local agencies ask for their advice and input.

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