Environmental victory opens door to clean, renewable energy in the state

MADISON — After nearly two years of debate, the state Legislature took an important step to protect Wisconsin’s environment and reduce global warming pollution today when the Assembly voted to pass wind siting reform. This measure will replace an over-stringent patchwork of local regulations for permitting wind farms with sensible statewide standards.

“Producing clean, renewable wind power is an essential element in the battle to reduce our reliance on the dirty fossil fuels that pollute our air and water, contribute to global warming, and cost our state billions,” said Ryan Schryver, clean energy advocate at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “Today’s vote represents years of hard work and an important environmental victory.”

Wisconsin’s current permitting system discourages the construction of small- and medium-sized wind farms, placing the state at a disadvantage in the clean energy economy as businesses choose to take their projects to neighboring states. Introduced by Representative Jim Soletski and Senator Jeff Plale and co-authored by Senator Randy Hopper and Representative Phil Montgomery, Assembly Bill 256/Senate Bill 185 will replace this chaotic system with statewide standards established by the Public Service Commission.

“The state’s old permitting system stalled safe wind projects that would put Wisconsinites to work producing clean, renewable energy to power our homes, schools and businesses,” said Schryver. “With today’s passage of wind siting reform, Wisconsinites can look forward to a future of clearer skies, cleaner water, and a stronger economy.”

The Assembly’s passage of the wind siting reform bill falls one day after the Senate passed the measure with a large bipartisan majority, 24-9. The bill now needs only the signature of the Governor to become law.

Wind siting reform represents one of many important recommendations formed by Governor Doyle’s Global Warming Task Force, a broad-spectrum stakeholder group assembled to study and map greenhouse gas reduction in Wisconsin. Legislation to implement more of the Task Force recommendations is expected to be introduced in coming months.

“The wind siting reform passed today will help our state improve environmental quality, become more energy independent, and create thousands of jobs in the clean energy economy,” said Schryver. “We praise our state legislators for passing such important legislation and look forward to working with them to make Wisconsin environmentally cleaner and economically stronger by passing the remainder of the Global Warming Task Force recommendations.”