Walker opposition to wind power shows “open for business” is just hot air

Posted on October 11, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Jobs, Wind |

From an editorial in The Northwestern, Oshkosh:

Since taking office in January, Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has breathlessly reminded anyone who’d listen that Wisconsin is “Open for Business.” That is beginning to sound like little more than hot air. The willingness of the administration to speed job creation appears tied to the willingness of job creators to see to it that the governor’s campaign war chest is stocked enough to help him hold onto his job.

New rules for wind farms operating in Wisconsin were supposed to go into effect earlier this year. After the governor submitted a bill to dramatically increase the setback requirement, a legislative committee put the rules on hold and sent them back to the Public Service Commission for reconsideration, where they’ve sat in limbo since March.

Meanwhile, the state is losing out on millions of dollars in economic investment and hundreds of jobs, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. Midwest Wind Energy, for example, already invested about $1 million on a wind farm project in Calumet County. In all, it expected to spend more than $200 million on the project, and hire 150 to 200 construction workers over 18 months and five to eight permanent workers.

“Right now, we just don’t have a path forward in Wisconsin,” Tim Polz, vice president of Midwest Wind Energy, told the State Journal. “The uncertainty is just too much now.”

According to the newspaper, five utility farm projects have been suspended or canceled since March, costing the state $1.6 billion in lost economic development and almost 1,000 temporary, full-time jobs.

It’s a safe rule of thumb that most policy inconsistencies can be traced to campaign donors. The governor’s more stringent property setbacks were supported by the real estate industry, which donated more than $598,000 to his campaign.


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