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View from around the state: Don’t blow back on wind power

More government regulation and tighter restrictions?

That’s the wrong path for Wisconsin to take on promising wind energy projects.

Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature should instead stick with the reasonable and uniform rules that the state Public Service Commission has approved.

Wisconsin is already falling behind its neighbors in the push to use wind as a clean, renewable energy source. At the same time, Wisconsin imports a huge portion of its power from out of state.

That’s why the PSC was smart to adopt standard rules for siting smaller wind operations as well as bigger wind farms. The PSC, after listening to public testimony, health experts and industry officials, wisely streamlined and replaced a hodgepodge of local restrictions.

The PSC standards now protect public health and safety while permitting well-designed wind farms on appropriate sites. Besides more home-grown energy, Wisconsin gains jobs related to the manufacturing of parts for turbines.

Farmers also benefit from the additional income they receive for allowing turbines of varying size on their land.

Walker’s welcome mantra since his election last fall has been that Wisconsin is “open for business.” But Walker’s proposal for more regulation and restrictions on wind projects runs counter to that promise.

In fact, wind industry officials fear his new restrictions would be the strictest in the nation, chasing away hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment. That’s certainly not good for business, Wisconsin’s economy and jobs.

Walker shouldn’t be confused by opponents’ overblown concerns about noise, shadows and lost property value near wind farms. The state Division of Public Health concluded that wind turbines are safe, based on more than 150 scientific and medical reports. Dr. Jevon McFadden of the Centers for Disease Control offered similar reassurance to the Wisconsin Wind Siting Council last year.

The PSC rules include reasonable setbacks from homes and property lines, procedures to resolve complaints and even good neighbor payments to compensate people who own land near wind projects.

Walker’s blow back on wind energy in Wisconsin is a mistake that the Legislature should reject.

Wisconsin State Journal

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