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Regulators dismiss challenge to 65-watt wind farm in Green County

By: Nate Beck, [email protected]//June 15, 2020//

Regulators dismiss challenge to 65-watt wind farm in Green County

By: Nate Beck, [email protected]//June 15, 2020//

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The Wisconsin Public Service Commission last week dismissed an attempt to block the proposed construction of a 65-watt wind farm in Green County, siding with local officials who had approved the project.

A group of 56 area property owners and residents filed an appeal with Wisconsin regulators last fall seeking to overturn county officials’ decision to approve the Sugar River Wind farm in the town of Jefferson. Challengers of the project haven’t yet leased land to the developer of the nearly 6,000-acre farm, which calls for putting up 24 wind turbines.

The group of residents argue that Green County officials accepted new information about the project after holding public hearings and hadn’t given them a chance to weigh in.

The PSC, however, voted 3-0 on Thursday to dismiss concerns about the project and construction work to proceed. P.J. Slaiterman, development director for EDF Renewables, praised the commission’s decision in a statement. The project is expected to generate enough power for about 20,000 homes.

“The decision is a reflection of the commitment of the Wisconsin PSC to uphold the permitting process,” Slaiterman said. “EDF Renewables looks forward to continuing the development work which includes active marketing to secure a buyer for the project and/or the generated electricity.”

An attorney for the group challenging the project didn’t respond by press time on Monday to a message seeking comment.

EDF Renewables filed an application for the wind farm with Green County in January 2019, saying it planned to begin work on the project in September and have it operational by the end of 2021. Every wind turbine proposed for the site will take about two months to complete.

A spokesperson for EDF said Monday that the company won’t complete its construction schedule until it has secured a buyer for the electricity that will eventually be generated by the wind farm.

Residents and landowners who are opposed to the solar farm argue that it would harm their health and property values — and complained that county officials had continued to accept amendments to EDF’s project plan even after holding a public hearing on the project last summer. Specifically, the group is calling attention to a map of floodplains, wetlands, soil and other features that EDF submitted to county officials in September.

“Green County erred in its approval of the Application by considering those documents filed more than two months after the application was deemed to be complete and more than a month after the public hearing,” according to the group’s petition to the PSC. “By doing so, they deprived Petitioners of due process by not providing Petitioners an opportunity to review the documents as well as to comment on them at the public hearing.”

Green County, in a response to the petition, argued that it had done “everything it was supposed to do and more.” The county, for instance, hired a wind engineer with experience in such projects and passed a local ordinance for siting the wind farm.

The PSC sided with county officials, voting to deny the petition and allowing the project to proceed without further discussion.


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