Wisconsin cannot afford to let the statewide interest in developing
wind farms be frustrated by communities that adopt a “not in my
That’s why the state should develop reasonable wind farm siting
standards to guide and limit local government regulation of wind farms
and to provide an avenue of appeal for
The goal should be to prohibit the “not in my backyard” disease known
as NIMBYism while preserving local authority to restrict or reject
wind farms when warranted.
Recent proposals to erect wind turbines on and near the Great Lakes
demonstrate that it’s in the public interest to take advantage of wind
power. Wind power is expected to meet 90 percent of Wisconsin’s goal
to more than double the renewable energy contribution to electric
needs over the next six years.
When developers propose wind farms of more than 100 megawatts in size
they face a rigorous review from the state Public Service Commission,
which protects both the public interest in regulation and the interest
in wind power.
However, small wind farm developers fall outside the PSC’s
jurisdiction and are left to local regulation. Too often, they are
blocked by unreasonable restrictions.
Local governments are frequently cowed into imposing
impossible-to-meet requirements, or even moratoriums, after opponents
raise alarming concerns, commonly based on misinformation.
Trempeleau County, for example, in 2007 adopted a wind power ordinance
requiring turbines to be set back at least a mile from any neighboring
residence, school, hospital or business. The ordinance effectively
The Legislature should step in. The Sensible Wind Siting Bill, which
failed to pass earlier this year, offered a sound solution.
The bill — proposed by Sen. Jeff Plale, D-South Milwaukee, and Rep.
Phil Montgomery, R-Green Bay — required the PSC to issue model rules
specifying what restrictions local governments can impose on wind
farms. Furthermore, the bill granted developers a right to appeal a
local decision to the PSC.
The adoption of similar legislation should be a top priority for
lawmakers in 2009.
Wisconsin should not let NIMBYism harm the public interest in a clean,
renewable source of electricity.