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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PSC Approves the Highland Wind Farm Project

STATEMENT from Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, LLC: (Madison, Wis.) – “We applaud the Public Service Commission vote today (2-1) and commission Chairman Phil Montgomery in particular for listening to scientific reason and ultimately supporting a valuable project for the people of Wisconsin. “EEW has worked tirelessly to be responsible future neighbors to the people of St. Croix County and will continue to work with residents in the affected area as we deliver jobs, clean energy and economic development. “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. “Our work will continue as we understand the emotional nature of this exhaustive debate. EEW will mend relationships, produce clean energy and put people to work. We thank the commission and the Towns of Forest and Cylon for their rigorous engagement.” Highland Wind Farm Specifics:
  • 26,550 acre project boundary
  • Up to 44 turbine sites
  • 100 + member construction workforce
  • 6-8 permanent employees for wind farm operations
  • 6,200 acres already under lease from property owners for turbine sites, access roads, distribution lines
  • Connects to Xcel Energy’s 161-kilovolt transmission line near Forest-Cylon town line
PDF of news release
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