Walker proposal would torpedo $1.8 billion in new wind power investments

Posted on January 14, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |

For immediate release:
January 14, 2011

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Michael Vickerman
Executive Director

Walker Proposal Would Torpedo $1.8 Billion in New Wind Power Investments

The window on new wind power developments is likely to slammed completely shut by the end of 2011 under a proposal released by Governor Scott Walker, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.

“As part of a larger proposal ostensibly to create jobs, Governor Walker unveiled new restrictions on wind energy development that, if adopted by the Legislature, would drive development activity worth $1.8 billion out of state,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

Governor Walker’s proposal would mandate minimum setbacks of 1,800 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line, a dramatic increase from the setback distance of 1,250 feet from a neighboring residence approved by the Public Service Commission in a rule that would otherwise take effect on March 1.

“There are very few locations in the entire Badger State that are windy and large enough, and located near transmission lines, to overcome such extreme constraints,” said Vickerman.

This setback requirement, which would be more stringent than any other statewide regulation in the nation, would also apply to permitted projects that have not begun construction, such as the two-turbine project in a Village of Cashton industrial park that was ready to begin construction this spring. A 99-megawatt project near Darlington in Lafayette County would also be blocked, said Vickerman.[For additional threatened projects see table below.]

“Because construction has commenced, We Energies’ 90-turbine Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County will avoid these extreme restrictions,” said Vickerman. “Adoption of Walker’s proposal will draw the curtain on projects that would follow Glacier Hills, which will be able to power up to 45,000 homes.”

The economic benefits from the $400 million Glacier Hills project are substantial. The Boldt Company (Appleton), Michels Corporation (Brownsville), and Edgerton Contractors, Inc. (Oak Creek) joined into an alliance to undertake the construction project. Tower Tech (Manitowoc) will supply the towers for the turbines.  Payments to local governments hosting the project will amount to $648,000 a year for the life of the project.

All of the projects threatened by the proposal would also create 2 million job-hours of construction-related employment.

“Unless the Legislature recognizes the folly of Governor Walker’s job-killing proposal, Wisconsin citizens will be denied similar economic benefits from other wind energy projects,” Vickerman said.


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