Wisconsin PSC rejects changes in wind facility siting rules

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission on Jan. 9 rejected a request by the town of Forest, Wisc., asking for new noise restrictions on wind turbines.

The town on Nov. 14, 2013, asked for an emergency rulemaking docket to consider amending Wisconsin rules relating to wind energy systems. The town argued that the changes would account for turbines in excess of 2 MW which produce more audible and inaudible sound. The town also argued that the commission should adopt a 40 dBA limit on sound exposure to bring Wisconsin’s standards in line with those of other states and countries.

On Dec. 3, 2013, Clean Wisconsin and RENEW Wisconsin jointly filed a response to the petition for emergency rules. On Dec. 4, 2013, Highland Wind Farm LLC, which is developing a wind project near the town, also filed a response to the petition. Wisconsin statute currently requires the Wind Siting Council to “survey the peer-reviewed scientific research regarding the health impacts of wind energy systems and study state and national regulatory developments regarding the siting of wind energy systems” and requires that the first report of such a survey be made to the legislature no later than Oct. 1, 2014. The Council is conducting this survey right now.

“Rather than open a rulemaking now, the Commission shall allow the Council to conclude its survey and prepare its report to the legislature,” said the commission in its Jan. 9 rejection. “The survey and report will cover the topics raised by the Town in its petition. The Commission will review the Council’s report before deciding whether to engage in amending or updating Wis. Admin. Code ch. PSC 128. As there is no pending wind energy system application at the Commission, there is no need to begin an emergency rulemaking at this time. For these reasons, the Town’s petition to open a rulemaking docket to consider an emergency rule revising Wis. Admin. Code Ch. PSC 128 is denied.”

The PSC on Dec. 20, 2013, also rejected a rehearing request from the town of Forest related to the commission’s Oct. 25, 2013, approval of the 102-MW Highland Wind Farm project. The commission on Oct. 25 granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to Highland Wind Farm, after initially rejecting the application earlier in the year. The developer then fixed the problems identified by the commission and won the Oct. 25 approval. On Nov. 14, the town of Forest asked for reconsideration and rehearing.

“The Town raises a variety of issues in support of its motions,” the commission said in its Dec. 20 rejection. “None of them are a sufficient basis for reconsideration or rehearing.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.