The state Assembly has passed legislation which backers say will make the placement of small wind turbine projects easier in Wisconsin. But debate Wednesday turned largely around whether the measure will or won’t create hundreds of new jobs in the state.

Proponents of the bill to give the Public Service Commission authority to regulate wind turbine siting pitched it as a jobs creator, an argument Elkhart Lake Republican Steve Kestell wasn’t buying. “It’s a job creator I guess for the folks in France who build all those wind generators that are sitting my district,” said Kestell. “Maybe (it’s) a job creator for all those folks who unload them off the boats.”

But Madison Democrat Spencer Black insisted wind technology jobs are already here. “People who are working right now . . . because you’re building the machines here, the turbines here,” said Black, adding that a friend of his recently got a job producing electrical equipment for wind turbines – and bought a round of beers to celebrate.

The bill, which passed the Senate on Tuesday, passed the Assembly on bipartisan 65-31 vote and now heads to Governor Jim Doyle’s desk.

AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:65 MP3)

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