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May 12, 2021

4/15/2021 9:32:00 AM
Local impacts deserve local input

Dear Editor;
Did you know an out-of-state energy company is currently in talks with around 50 landowners in Iowa and Lafayette counties to lease land for a large utility-scale wind project?
Are you aware that 30,000 acres of land in Iowa and Lafayette counties could be covered by approximately 170 wind turbines in the next 10 to 15 years?
If landowners who were approached by this company hadn't started talking about it with their neighbors, friends and fellow community members, it's entirely possible that no county residents would know about this project - and it's perfectly legal per current Wisconsin statutes.
There is a lack of awareness around projects like this as large utility-scale wind projects are reviewed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin, a board of three non-elected members, and DO NOT need local approval to be built. There is a comment process available for residents to file complaints, however, this step is done AFTER the application is submitted to the PSC and more often than none, is ineffective at that stage of the project.
To put it simply, the communities that would be impacted most by a large-scale project have NO SAY in whether the project should or shouldn't be built. Local town and village boards, along with county boards, also have NO SAY in whether a project should or shouldn't be built.
Wisconsin is NOT unique in its discussions to raise awareness about these non-transparent moves by for-profit energy companies and subsequent legislation that takes control away from local municipalities and their residents. Legislation is currently being considered by senators in Ohio (Senate Bill 52) and would include:
• A requirement that energy companies give notice to and share project details with trustees in townships that would be impacted by the project 30 days before applying for a certificate from the Ohio Power Siting Board, which acts in a similar fashion to Wisconsin's PSC.
• A requirement that township trustees decide within those 30 days whether or not to pass a resolution allowing or requiring public input.
• A requirement to allow residents in that township to petition for a referendum, which would then be put on the ballot for the next election to gauge the approval or disapproval of the project.
If there is a LOCAL IMPACT, then LOCAL INPUT is deserved!
I encourage you to reach out to members of the Iowa and Lafayette county boards and tell them that at minimum, they need to update their wind ordinances to protect the communities they serve. Demand public input be considered when updating the ordinance, and no matter how irritated those board members may seem, keep voicing your concerns.
I'm personally appalled by the lack of local control from county and town boards over massive projects that could impact generations to come in communities all across the state of Wisconsin.
Brooke Boelman
Dodgeville, WI

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