Public Service Commission approves wind farm northwest of Eau Claire

After initially rejecting the plan, Wisconsin energy regulators gave the go-ahead Thursday for Emerging Energies of Wisconsin to build a $250 million wind farm in St. Croix County. The state Public Service Commission approved the Highland Wind Farm in a 2-to-1 vote, with commission Chairman Phil Montgomery and commissioner Eric Callisto agreeing to support the project, and commissioner Ellen Nowak voting against. Earlier this year, Montgomery and 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 the commission opened the door for Emerging Energies to show how it could comply with the standard. The developer followed up, indicating it could comply by curtailing some of the turbines at night. Montgomery said Thursday he was satisfied with the developer's plan, but wanted to see documentation that the wind turbines are programmed to meet the noise standard and that the developers follow up "with adequate measurement and monitoring." The PSC decided to double the number of sound monitors that would measure compliance with the state noise standard and to require more sound monitoring four times a year. The commission could also require further action if the project results in noise complaints. Montgomery and Callisto said the sound modeling used in the project was conservative and is likely to over-predict the amount of noise the project will generate. The developer released a statement Thursday afternoon, saying in part: "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." More from source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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