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Wisconsin and renewable energy

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

Wisconsin has a ten percent renewable portfolio standard by 2015.[1] Renewable energy generation in Wisconsin increased 93% from 2006 to 2010.[2]

Wind power

A 2009 Wisconsin law instructed regulators to comes up with a statewide setback policy on wind siting, aimed at streamlining the patchwork of local setback rules governing the distance wind developers need to leave between turbines and adjacent homes. After two years of hearings and debate, they issued rules (PSC 128) requiring that turbines have a setback from the nearest property line of 1.1 times the height of the turbine, or roughly 450 feet for an average windmill. The rules also required turbines be at least 1,250 feet away from the nearest residence.[3]

In October 2011, State Senator Frank Lasee (R) of De Pere, WI introduced a bill (SB 263) that would declare a moratorium on construction of wind farms over 100 feet until the state PSC is in possession of a report that ensures turbines don't cause health problems. The bill has yet to get a committee hearing. Lasee is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and an alternate on the ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force.[4]

On the day the new siting rules were to take effect in March 2011, a Republican-controlled legislative committee voted along party lines to suspend the statewide rules. Gov. Scott Walker instead proposed a blanket 1,800-foot setback from the nearest property line, which the American Wind Energy Association said would essentially shut down the state’s wind industry. Wind proponents say Walker's proposal has jeopardized approximately 700 megawatts of wind projects that were proposed in the state, including the suspending or canceling of five major developments totaling $1.6 billion in economic investment.[5][6]

Walker also appointed 2010 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Public Sector Board Treasurer Phil Montgomery[7] as head of the Wisconsin Public Services Commission (PSC) in March 2011.[8]

In January 2012, Lasee introduced a bill that would allow officials in cities, villages, towns and counties to establish the minimum distance between a wind turbine over 100 feet and a home — even if those rules are more restrictive than any the state tries to enact. In effect, the bill would allow each of Wisconsin's nearly 2,000 municipal governments to create and enforce their own unique regulatory standards, overriding the authority of the state PSC.[9]

If no new wind siting bills are adopted by March 2012, the 1,250-foot setback policy becomes permanently unsuspended. If lawmakers decide to repeal the rules, then regulators at the PSC will start the rule-making process again.[10]

Resources

References

  1. "States with Renewable Portfolio Standards" US DOE, accessed June 2010.
  2. Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, "Electric Provider Renewable Portfolio Standard Compliance for CY 2010," June 22, 2011.
  3. Dan Haugen, "Wisconsin Lawmakers Weary Of Wind Setback Issue," Midwest Energy News, Feb. 6, 2012.
  4. Scot Ross, "One Wisconsin Now Exclusive: WI Senators Paying Corporate ALEC Membership with Tax Dollars, One Wisconsin Now website, May 8, 2011
  5. Louis Weisberg, "Why Scott Walker killed wind energy jobs in Wisconsin" Wisconsin Gazette, Dec 14, 2011.
  6. Dan Haugen, "Wisconsin Lawmakers Weary Of Wind Setback Issue," Midwest Energy News, Feb. 6, 2012.
  7. [1], American Association for Justice. “ALEC: Ghostwriting the Law for Corporate America.” Justice.org. May 2010. p. 17
  8. [2], Content, Thomas. “Walker picks Montgomery to head PSC.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. JSOnline.com. March 28, 2011. Accessed July 2, 2011.
  9. "Bill would allow communities to establish wind turbine setbacks: Lasee's proposal would supersede rules by state," Wisconsin State Journal, Jan. 25, 2012.
  10. Dan Haugen, "Wisconsin Lawmakers Weary Of Wind Setback Issue," Midwest Energy News, Feb. 6, 2012.

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