Wind siting legislation at the state capitol passes a senate committee.

The legislation would get rid of the “chaotic patchwork” of local regulations for permitting wind farms and it would replace the inconsistencies with statewide standards. That’s how Ryan Schryver, with Clean Wisconsin, explains the measure. He says under current law, the large proposed wind farms — more than 40 or 50 wind turbines — must go through the state Public Service Commission for approval, but not the smaller ones.

“Projects that could be as small as one or two turbines, or up to 20 to 30 turbines, are forced to wade through an overly restrictive minefield of local ordinances.”

So, Schryver says, smaller wind farms are discouraged due to the restrictive ordinances. This bill would fix that process by asking the state PSC to determine statewide permitting standards. Many homeowners have concerns about light flickering and noise issues, but Schryver says there are always concerns in all types of energy generation — nuclear, coal, natural gas, all of which go through the PSC for approval.

Schryver says it’s appropriate that the same experts set statewide standards for consistency sake. Otherwise, he says, Wisconsin will continue to be at a disadvantage in competing for business with neighboring states. He says investors want certainty and predictability.

NOTE: The bill (SB-185) passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Energy, Utilities and Rail 6-1 with 3 amendments. Companion legislation — Assembly Bill 256 — passed the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities by a vote of 11-2 in early June.

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