Wind energy industry members and advocates expressed relief and thanks Thursday when Wisconsin’s new wind farm siting rules, originally scheduled to take effect a year ago, became law.
The latest news came after a bill to repeal the rules was sent back to committee last week and subsequently was not further acted on in the final days of the legislative session. Actions by Wisconsin-based member companies and individuals in the state were critical to making sure that the state legislature did not act to permanently suspend the rules in the waning days of the session.
The siting rules, developed by a wide range of stakeholders and deemed a major accomplishment by participants, were put in place by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in 2010 and were set to take effect in March 2011. The wind industry had embraced the rules because, while setting a high standard for siting, they provided the industry with the clarity needed to develop projects.
The original guidelines call for wind turbines to be set back from the nearest property line by 1.1 times the height of the turbine. They also require turbines to be no closer than 1,250 feet from the nearest residence. However, after the November 2010 elections, a bill was introduced to increase the property-line setback to 1,800 feet and the rules were suspended.
“The arrival of these siting rules is good news for Wisconsin because it means jobs for the Badger State—not only through the building of wind farms that produce clean, affordable electricity, but in manufacturing as well,” said AWEA Director of Business Development Jeff Anthony, a Wisconsin native who is currently based there. “The wind energy supply chain gravitates to areas where there are wind projects, and the industry is eager to tap Wisconsin’s manufacturing infrastructure and know-how. We thank the Wisconsin legislature for their careful deliberation on this issue.”
Wisconsin legislature mounts late-session attack on wind, March 6, 2012
Public Opinion Watch: Wisconsin says “Yes!” to wind power, April 25, 2011
Suspension of Wisconsin wind siting rules threatens to shut door on wind power industry in the state, March 1, 2011