Wind farm back on after 2-1 PSC vote
Seven months after regulators said no to the Highland Wind Farm, they reversed course.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin voted 2-1 on Friday, Sept. 27, to allow Emerging Energies of Wisconsin (EEW) to move forward with its plans to build a 41-turbine wind farm on 26,550 acres in the towns of Cylon and Forest in St. Croix County.
In February, the PSC rejected the company’s plans, but gave EEW another chance after it revealed ways to reduce noise levels at the wind farm.
Hubertus, Wis.-based EEW applauded the panel in a prepared statement issued last week.
“Commissioner Montgomery set high standards for us to meet and gave us another chance to prove that we were able to comply with the state’s noise standard for wind turbines,” a portion of the statement reads. “Our work will continue as we understand the emotional nature of this exhaustive debate. EEW will mend relationships, produce clean energy and put people to work. We thank the commission and the towns of Forest and Cylon for their rigorous engagement.”
That engagement looks likely to continue as members of Forest Voice, a group opposing the wind farm, issued its own lengthy statement over the weekend via spokesperson Brenda Salseg.
“We believe that the residents of Forest should not be the real life testers for the modeling theory of curtailment,” a portion of Salseg’s statement reads. “If the PSC has the safety of the public as its number one interest then they have failed miserably to protect the health and welfare of the people of Forest. Would you trust the safety of your family to a computer program? Once the turbines are up the damage to the land has been done. If noise violations occur, we have no guarantee that the situation will be immediately resolved or even eventually and the burden of complaints will likely fall on the nonparticipating majority of residents. Although the PSC has listed several conditions that Highland must meet in order to proceed with the development, the history of Highland speaks for itself and that history does not give a strong argument for trust.”
For now, the group plans to look over the PSC’s decision before deciding whether to challenge it through the court system. Forest Voice had a meeting planned for Wednesday night to discuss next steps.
“The Forest Voice supports the development of renewable energy which is financially sound, economically feasible and safe for the human environment. We will weigh our options with regard to the Highland Wind Farm CPCN approval and we will continue to fight for the rights of citizens faced with improperly cited industrial wind turbines,” Salseg’s statement concludes.
According to the Highland Wind Farm online fact sheet, the project in St. Croix County is expected to create more than 100 jobs during the construction phase, and up to eight permanent jobs to run the facility’s day-to-day operations. So far, EEW has leased about 6,200 acres from property owners, but plans call for more than 26,000 acres. Plans call for transmission lines to connect the turbines to Xcel Energy’s existing line near the Cylon-Forest border. The wind farm’s 41 turbines would generate 102.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 25,000 homes, according to EEW.
Find out more about EEW’s proposed Highland Wind Farm at highlandwindpower.com.
Find out more about the Forest Voice at TheForestVoice.org.
Find out more about the PSC at http://psc.wi.gov.