Bill to Aid Wind Power Gusts In

, By Clean Wisconsin

Bipartisan proposal backed by key environment groups would cut red tape for smaller projects

MADISON — Facilities providing power from wind would get faster and easier approval under a bill introduced today by State Rep. Phil Montgomery (R-Green Bay) and State Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) with the backing of two key state environmental groups: Clean Wisconsin and Renew Wisconsin.

“Wind has arrived as an inexpensive, clean and renewable energy source,” said Ryan Schryver, Clean Energy Advocate of Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy group. “Clean Wisconsin has been proud to help two forward-thinking leaders craft a bill that will help wind power spread across the state.”

Michael Vickerman, Executive Director at Renew Wisconsin, said, “Small wind farm proposals currently are forced to wade through a quagmire of overly restrictive local ordinances during the zoning and permitting stages of the projects. Many of these local ordinances were designed by small groups of wind opponents to specifically prevent the construction of turbines in the area. This bill puts smaller wind developments on a fair track for consideration and approval. Renew Wisconsin supports this smart proposal without reservation.” Renew Wisconsin is a statewide group focused on promoting renewable energy.

Under current law large wind power projects receive consideration and approval from the state Public Service Commission. However, smaller projects under 100 megawatts are forced go through a thorny local process that can differ widely from community to community. This has resulted in a patchwork of overly restrictive ordinances that have prevented several wind developments from being built. With so many projects on hold because of these ordinances, Wisconsin may not be able to meet our renewable energy goals set forth by Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Law.

Senator Plale and Representative Montgomery’s Sensible Wind Siting Policy (AB 899 / SB 544) will create uniform state standards to guide local units of government in permitting wind projects and will establish a process for wind opponents or developers to appeal decisions to the Public Service Commission.

As global warming concerns reach a boiling point, advocates from Clean Wisconsin and Renew Wisconsin say the bill will have a beneficial impact not only on the climate and environment but on the taxpayers too. Governor Doyle’s Global Warming Task Force included recommendations to create uniform wind siting standards as a part of their recently released Interim Report.

The legislation has brought together an unusual group of supporters. “The collection of diverse interest groups rallying together to back this legislation speaks volumes about the support for renewable energy in Wisconsin and the real need to reform our current system for approving wind developments,” said Schryver.

“The end result of this bill will be clean, safe and affordable renewable energy for more Wisconsin residents,” said Vickerman.

With bipartisan support already lined up, advocates from Clean Wisconsin and Renew Wisconsin are hoping for a fast track from bill to law. The bill will be debated at an Assembly hearing today on Tuesday March 4th, with a Senate hearing on Wednesday March 5th with consideration shortly afterward by the full legislature.