“We shouldn’t have the Realtors Association dictating energy policy in this state”

Posted on January 17, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

About $500 million in investment in renewable energy over the next two years could be at risk if lawmakers approve Gov. Scott Walker’s wind turbine siting bill.

The bill, praised by some as a strong defense of property rights, would erect the biggest hurdle to wind farm development in the nation, industry leaders said Friday.

“This will be the biggest regulatory barrier in terms of setbacks in the country,” said Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association, based in Washington, D.C. “You’re adding a new regulatory barrier and putting a ‘closed for business’ sign on Wisconsin for wind development.”

A restrictive environment for wind development would create a chilling effect for companies that manufacture parts for wind turbines and want to open plants in the state, following the lead of firms such as TowerTech in Manitowoc and Ingeteam, which is building a factory in the Menomonee River Valley.

Many states have no setback requirements, deferring to local units of government. Of those that do, none has a setback from turbines as deep as Wisconsin’s new proposal, Bode said.

Walker’s bill, proposed as part of a regulatory reform package, would mandate minimum setbacks of 1,800 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line. That compares with a setback of 1,250 feet from a neighboring residence approved by the Public Service Commission in a rule adopted last year and set to take effect this year.

Tom Larson, chief lobbyist for the Wisconsin Realtors Association, said the proposal is needed to protect homeowners who live near wind turbines. . . .

Dan Ebert, who chairs the state’s wind siting advisory council, said the end result wasn’t perfect, but did a better job at balancing the competing interests than Walker’s bill does.

“We shouldn’t have the Realtors Association dictating energy policy in this state,” said Ebert, senior vice president at WPPI Energy in Sun Prairie. “This puts a stake through the heart of wind development in the state of Wisconsin.”


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