Wind Siting Legislation Passes Senate Committee with Strong Bipartisan Support

, By Clean Wisconsin

MADISON — Wisconsin could soon see greater economic growth in the promising wind energy industry as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Energy, Utilities and Rail voted 6-1 on Senate Bill 185 Tuesday. This bipartisan bill replaces the chaotic patchwork of local regulations with sensible statewide standards for permitting wind farms.

“Wind energy holds the potential to address many of the greatest problems facing our state: it can help our environment while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating jobs for Wisconsinites,” says Ryan Schryver, clean energy advocate for Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “With so much to gain, we’re extremely encouraged that the legislature is poised to eliminate administrative barriers holding up the development of this industry.”

While dozens of wind projects stand shovel-ready here, Wisconsin’s current permitting system discourages the development of small- and medium-sized wind farms, placing the state at a disadvantage in this growing industry as wind developers take their projects to neighboring states. As other industries have struggled in poor economic times and cut workers, the wind energy industry grew immensely in 2008, increasing its national workforce by 70 percent to over 85,000 workers. This bill, when passed, will be a boost to the state’s economy and put Wisconsinites to work manufacturing components for, installing and maintaining wind turbines that provide clean, safe and affordable energy.

Senate Bill 185, companion legislation to Assembly Bill 256 which passed the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities by a vote of 11-2 in early June, charges the Wisconsin Public Service Commission with studying and determining permitting standards for wind farms to replace the current disorganized system that discourages the growth of the wind energy industry with sensible statewide standards.

“We are encouraged by the committee’s action and look forward to working with the bill’s lead authors to pass this bill through the full houses of the Assembly and Senate this fall,” says Schryver.