Agency gets extension for wind farm decision
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has received a three-month extension in its consideration of a wind farm proposal in eastern St. Croix County.
Dane County Circuit Court ruled Friday that the PSC will have until March 25, 2013 to render a decision in favor of or against Highland Wind Farm LLC. The previous deadline for a decision was Sept. 25.
PSC officials said they were not able to complete their work on the application in the time allotted.
Jay Mundinger, founding principal with Emerging Energies of Wisconsin LLC, the wind farm developer, said the extension is not anything out of the ordinary.
"We fully expected that the PSC would seek the additional 180 days in order to be sure they would have ample time for a thorough review to provide the best possible project for the state of Wisconsin," he said.
With the delay, construction of the project will not begin in 2012, as developers originally had hoped. But Mundinger said the wind farm is on track to proceed, once the state gives its final approval.
"We continue to answer questions for the public, have discussions with key market players regarding components for the project and future equipment needs, and establishing other data points that will assist in getting this project built in the very near future," he said.
Mundinger said the possible expiration of federal incentives for renewable energy at the end of the year won't have any bearing on the project.
"With or without the federal incentive, Highland Wind Farm will make it through the final permitting phase," he said. "From there, if the incentive is not extended, the market will have to bear the true cost rather than a portion of it being offset by the federal government."
Brenda Salseg, spokesperson for the Forest Voice, a citizen group opposed to the Highland project, said the extension was expected by all involved.
"What has not been expected is how the PSC continues to ignore the Forest Voice requests for an extension of time to file testimony and appeal for intervenor compensation," she said. "We are not sure if the PSC is running the permitting process or if it is the wind developer's law firm. It seems at every turn, our rights and voice in the matter are being diminished."
Many Forest residents continue to worry about the impact the 41-turbine project will have on their quality of life and on their property values
"I see nothing fair about the process in general," Salseg said. "We feel we are being shut out of full participation," she said. "How can a public regulatory agency, for the benefit of a non-utility private company, have the power to authorize an industrial wind electrical generating facility project that will dominate an entire township without majority consent?"