A wind turbine company appealed a decision made by regulators to block the company’s plans of building a large wind turbine farm in northwestern Wisconsin, and now both sides will voice their opinion Wednesday.
Matt Pagel, spokesperson for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, said PSC is the regulatory body that initially voted 2-1 to deny Emerging Energies’ application to build the wind turbine farm.
The farm would have built up to 44 wind turbines and created 102.5 megawatts of energy, according to a PSC statement. According to Emerging Energies’ website, the project would cost $250 million.
The statement said PSC denied the application largely due to concerns about the noise the turbines would produce. However, Pagel said the denial was not formal, and added PSC has asked for comments from both sides in order to review the application.
“It’s premature for us to speculate,” Pagel said on how PSC would act.
Pagel said the three PSC members who voted for the Emerging Energies’ application do not discuss the case until they sit down and independently review the information that is presented to them. Pagel said comments are due Wednesday, but one side has asked for an extension.
Katie Nekola, an attorney for Clean Wisconsin, an advocacy group that supports Emerging Energies’ project, said noise was no longer an issue because the company had proposed ways to control the noise.
“We support wind energy – it’s a clean, safe alternative to fossil fuel energy,” Nekola said. “It’s renewable, it’s homegrown here in Wisconsin, and we can rely on the wind. It reduces the need for dirty coal energy and dangerous nuclear energy.”
Nekola said the decision needs to be made soon if the project is going to be built. She said the project has been going on for over a year already.
She said she has heard mixed reviews on the project from the people who live in the St. Croix County community where the project is slated to be built.
“It’s time to approve the project,” Nekola said. “We’ve had plenty of time to debate this, and we know everything we need to know. They should approve the project.”
Scott Sanford, a senior outreach specialist in the biological systems engineering department at the University of Wisconsin, said there have not been many windmills built in the last few years because the government made setbacks, so it was difficult for companies to build wind turbines.
He said the state government used to require 300 acres of space per wind turbine, but have recently changed the rules to only require wind turbines that are set back 1500 feet from the property line.
Sanford said typically there are only noise concerns about small wind turbines, and the bigger ones are not a problem. He cited wind turbines that Epic, a medical technology company in Verona, put in recently that have received some concern about low levels of noise and vibrations.
PSC will make a decision March 1, Nekola said.