RENEW Wisconsin submitted the following statement at the public hearing of the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules on wind siting rules (PSC 128).

Governor Walker and legislative leaders reportedly will seek a change in the rule when the governor appoints a new chair of the three-person Public Service Commission when Commissioner Mark Meyer’s term expires March 1. With no legislative action, PSC 128 will become effective on March 1, 2011, and will remain in effect until changed by the PSC.

Good morning, my name is Michael Vickerman. I am here to represent RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy and education organization based in Madison. Incorporated in 1991, RENEW acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. We have over 300 total members, and more than 60 businesses around the state, including Biogas Direct (Prairie du Sac), Bleu Mont Dairy (Mount Horeb), Bubbling Springs Solar (Menomonie), Crave Brothers Farm (Waterloo), Convergence Energy (Lake Geneva), Emerging Energies (Hubertus), Energy Concepts (Hudson), Full Circle Farm (Seymour), Full Spectrum Solar (Madison), GDH, Inc. (Chilton), H&H Solar (Madison), Kettle View Renewable Energy (Random Lake), Michels Wind Energy (Brownsville), North American Hydro (Neshkoro), Northwind Renewable Energy LLC (Stevens Point), Pieper Power (Milwaukee), Organic Valley (LaFarge), Quantum Dairy (Weyauwega), Renewegy (Oshkosh), and Seventh Generation Energy Systems (Madison).

On behalf of all our members that have an interest in wind generation, RENEW Wisconsin took the lead in bringing together diverse groups and companies and forging a broad and bipartisan coalition to support legislation establishing statewide permitting standards for all wind generators in the state of Wisconsin. The fruit of that labor, 2009 Act 40, was signed into law in September 2009.

I am here today to encourage this Committee to take no action on the PSC 128 rule that is scheduled to take effect on March 1st. The Commission’s rule is a good-faith compromise that balances the state’s interest in promoting a preferred energy resource with the interests of neighboring landowners.

The PSC rule will provide wind energy developers with regulatory certainty — a clearly defined set of requirements which they must comply with in order to obtain a permit. Such stability and clarity in the wind permitting arena has been absent from Wisconsin for the last 13 years, which, more than any other reason, explains why Wisconsin utilities own more wind generating capacity in Iowa and Minnesota (329 MW) than they do in Wisconsin (235 MW).

I would like this committee to consider the following points:

* The statewide rule promulgated by the PSC is the culmination of two uninterrupted years of agency involvement in wind siting proceedings. The record built on the major issues is nothing short of encyclopedic.

* A longer setback distance is not necessary given PSC 128’s strict regulation of sound propagation and shadow flicker duration. Both the maximum allowable nighttime sound threshold (45 dBa) and the maximum allowable duration of shadow flicker (25 hours a year) are very strict thresholds in comparison to what other states have adopted.

* Payments from wind generation facilities support rural economies. The counties and towns hosting Wisconsin’s four largest operating windpower installations receive more than $1.5 million in payments in lieu of taxes each year. Landowners hosting the 251 turbines in these projects receive more than $1.2 million per year combined. Not counting payments for transmission-related infrastructure, these four wind projects pump nearly $3 million annually to local governments, host landowners and neighboring residents. (See the January 12th, 2011, article in the Fond du Lac Reporter)

* There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values statewide. In 2008 and 2009, Poletti and Associates, an Illinois real estate appraisal firm, investigated the impact of the Lincoln and Rosiere wind projects on nearby land sales and home construction activity. Analyzing seven years’ of sales data, the Poletti study concluded that the 31 turbines in Kewaunee County have not an effect on area property values. Moreover, since 1999, when the turbines were placed in service, more than 10 houses have been constructed within one-half mile of a turbine there.

There is one sure way that Wisconsin leaders can demonstrate their commitment to nurturing wind energy-related businesses and the jobs that will emerge from their activities, and that is to allow the PSC 128 rule to take effect as scheduled on March 1st. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.