Appeals court upholds wind siting ruling

A positive state ruling on wind siting in Wisconsin:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin appeals court says state regulators didn’t have to produce a report on how wind turbines affect property values when they imposed siting standards.  

The Public Service Commission implemented rules setting up uniform wind turbine construction and setback standards in 2012. The state realtors, builders and towns associations sued, arguing the rules were invalid because the commission didn’t produce a report on the rules’ effect on property values. 

A Brown County judge ruled last year no report was required. The 3rd District Court of Appeals agreed on Tuesday. The court said a report is needed only when rules directly affect housing. The PSC considered voluminous evidence about turbines’ effect on housing and reasonably concluded they don’t’ hurt residential property values. 

The associations’ attorney didn’t immediately return a message.

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Australian Medical Association: Windfarm infrasound is safe

The Australian Medical Association released a position statement on March 18, 2014, including a statement that “available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity.” Their entire statement is below or available on their website.

Wind turbine technology is considered a comparatively inexpensive and effective means of energy production. Wind turbines generate sound, including infrasound, which is very low frequency noise that is generally inaudible to the human ear. Infrasound is ubiquitous in the environment, emanating from natural sources (e.g. wind, rivers) and from artificial sources including road traffic, ventilation systems, aircraft and other machinery. All modern wind turbines in Australia are designed to be upwind, with the blade in front of the tower. These upwind turbines generate much lower levels of infrasound and low frequency sound. 

Infrasound levels in the vicinity of wind farms have been measured and compared to a number of urban and rural environments away from wind farms. The results of these measurements have shown that in rural residences both near to and far away from wind turbines, both indoor and outdoor infrasound levels are well below the perception threshold, and no greater than that experienced in other rural and urban environments. 

AMA Position

  • The available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity. The infrasound and low frequency sound generated by modern wind farms in Australia is well below the level where known health effects occur, and there is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause health effects.
  • Individuals residing in the vicinity of wind farms who do experience adverse health or well-being, may do so as a consequence of their heightened anxiety or negative perceptions regarding wind farm developments in their area. Individuals who experience heightened anxiety or diminished health and well-being in the context of local wind farms should seek medical advice.
  • The reporting of ‘health scares’ and misinformation regarding wind farm developments may contribute to heightened anxiety and community division, and over-rigorous regulation of these developments by state governments.
  • The regulation of wind farm developments should be guided entirely by the evidence regarding their impacts and benefits. Such regulation should ensure that structured and extensive local community consultation and engagement is undertaken at the outset of planning, in order to minimise misinformation, anxiety and community division.
  • Electricity generation by wind turbines does not involve production of greenhouse gases, other pollutant emissions or waste, all of which can have significant direct and indirect health effects. 

Milwaukee Wind Turbine Marks Two-Year Anniversary!

From Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability:

Today marks the second anniversary of energy generation at the Port of Milwaukee’s wind turbine. Not only is the wind turbine an important symbol of Milwaukee’s clean energy future, it is paying annual dividends on the tax payers’ investment. In fact, the turbine has far exceeded our initial estimates in clean energy production and savings to the City! Since many of the components and all of the installation services were sourced from Wisconsin firms, the wind turbine also demonstrates that every dollar we invest in renewable energy in Wisconsin, is a dollar invested in a job for a Wisconsinite. 

The electricity generated by the wind turbine exceeds the electricity used at the Port Administration building while providing surplus clean power back to the grid. To date, the turbine has generated over 300,000 kwh of electricity. And, we have avoided releasing over 380,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into our air. As a result, Milwaukee’s Port Administration building is the first City of Milwaukee municipal facility that is a “net zero” electric energy user! 

The surplus electricity created over $13,000 in revenue for the City in 2013 in addition to $6,000 in electricity savings. The wind turbine had a total annual economic impact of nearly $20,000 in 2013. Since electricity rates continue to rise, the payback on the wind turbine will accelerate. 

Milwaukee’s wind turbine is part of the City’s initiative to reduce energy use and increase renewable energy projects on City facilities. OES is currently planning additional solar energy projects to complement this renewable energy source. 

Learn more about the project and see live production data here:

MidAmerican Energy’s massive Iowa wind project will also mean big business for an tower manufacturer with a plant in Wisconsin

 From a December 17th blog post by Tom Content, Journal Sentinal

A $1 billion order for wind turbines is expected to lead to more business for a Wisconsin-based maker of giant steel wind towers.

MidAmerican Energy on Monday announced plans to buy 448 turbines from Siemens, in what the turbine maker said was the largest single order in the world of wind turbines for land-based wind power projects.

Siemens spokeswoman Claire Little confirmed that the tower supplier for the big order will be Broadwind Energy Inc., which builds towers in Manitowoc and Texas.

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Upon further review, PSC approves Highland wind farm

An article by Tom Content documents how the PSC reversed course on the Highland Wind Farm project, which has now been approved:

After initially rejecting the plan, Wisconsin energy regulators gave the go-ahead Thursday for Emerging Energies to build a $250 million wind farm in western Wisconsin.
The state Public Service Commission approved the St. Croix County wind farm in a 2-to-1 vote, with commission Chairman Phil Montgomery agreeing to support the project.
Earlier this year, Montgomery and commissioner Ellen Nowak had rejected the plan, saying the developer hadn’t shown it was able to comply with the state’s noise standard for wind turbines.
But they opened the door to Emerging Energies to show how it could comply with the standard, and the developer followed up, indicating it could comply with the standard by curtailing some of the turbines at night.
Montgomery said Thursday he was satisfied with the developer’s curtailment plan, but wanted to see documentation that the wind turbines are programmed to meet the noise standard — and that the project developers follow up “with adequate measurement and monitoring.”
In a statement after the vote, the conservation group Clean Wisconsin praised the panel’s 2-to-1 decision.
“Today’s decision is a victory for cleaner air and water in Wisconsin,” said Katie Nekola of Clean Wisconsin in a statement. “The Highland Wind project will supply enough clean, safe electricity to power hundreds of homes and businesses, and will displace dirty coal power.”
If the project moves forward to construction, the Highland Wind Farm in the town of Forest in St. Croix County would consist of up to 44 wind turbines, generating 102.5 megawatts of electricity.
Look for updates later today on JSOnline.