Critics of proposed statewide rules of permitting wind farms in Wisconsin unloaded complaints on legislators, during a hearing at the Capitol Wednesday. A state Senate committee is reviewing the rules from the Public Service Commission, which would create statewide standards for the construction of wind farms.
Larry Wunsch, who served on the PSC advisory panel, says proposed setbacks for wind turbines still leave them too close to homes. Wunsch was also critical of the process the Commission used in crafting the rules, arguing that the panel was stacked with pro-wind advocates who ignored opposing viewpoints.
Tamas Houlihan with the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association voiced concerns about restrictions on aerial crop spraying, warning it could cause delays in treating plants. Houlihan was joined by several other farmers who say they need to react quickly to potential pest threats, and only aerial spraying allows them to do that.
Lawmakers also heard from supporters of the rules, who argue that clear guidelines are needed to keep local governments from creating conflicting standards.
Michael Arndt of Element Power says setback guidelines that are too strict could severely limit where wind farms can be built. Arndt says there’s a misconception that there are large strips of land out there waiting for wind development. However, he says forcing turbines to be built a half mile or more from neighboring properties quickly reduces the amount of land available.
State Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee), who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail, told dozens of people who turned out to testify Wednesday that lawmakers will likely send the proposed rules back to the PSC for changes.