Trying to site a wind farm in the Town of Stockbridge

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Marilyn Propson, a farmer and possible host of a wind turbine in the Town of Stockbridge in Calumet County, spoke to a legislative committee considering a bill that would reform the wind site permitting process in Wisconsin.

Under the current permitting process, vocal wind opponents have convinced town boards to impose restrictions that effectively prohibit any wind generation in the towns.

Assembly Bill 899 would require town boards to adopt siting ordinances "consistent with" siting criteria developed by the Public Service Commission. The two posts following this one provide more backgroun on the siting issue.

Here is the text of her statement:

Hello - My name is Marilyn Propson. I live in the Town Stockbridge, in Calumet County. My address is W4342 Quinney Rd., Chilton 53014. I hope to be the voice representing hundreds of landowners and thousands of acres of land in Wisconsin ready and willing to be part of the effort to move forward with wind energy projects. I hope the State of Wisconsin will take note that there is no shortage of landowners willing to sign on to host wind turbines.

I’d like to share a little history of the Town of Stockbridge with you today. I obtained the information before 2006 from a neighbor, Marvin Ecker, Jr.

Attempt #1 – In the spring of 1998, Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) came into the Town of Stockbridge and approached landowners to see if there was interest in siting a wind project. Three families signed lease options. Stockbridge then enacted a 24-month moratorium. The Public Service Commission approved MGE’s application, but, as a result of the moratorium, MGE had to walk away from Stockbridge. Lawsuits were filed. The result – no turbines.

Attempt #2 – In June 2004, Marvin Ecker, Jr. obtained permission to build a single small turbine on his land. In May 2005, Marvin put up the turbine now standing on Quinney Hill. Stockbridge enacted another moratorium. The result – one farm-sized turbine.

Attempt #3 – In April 2005, shortly before Marvin’s small turbine was erected, he applied for another permit to host four large turbines. In his words, while seeking the necessary permits, he was given the run-around. This triggered more legal action. The result – no turbines.

Attempt #4 – In early 2006, Midwest Wind Energy approached landowners in the Towns of Stockbridge and Brothertown for yet another try at a wind energy project. By November 2006, 33 families controlling 5,000 acres had signed on. In May 2007, the Town of Stockbridge adopted a 90-day moratorium. Later that month, Midwest Wind Energy sent a memo to Stockbridge landowners stating that development activities would be suspended due to the moratorium. In September 2007, Stockbridge enacted a Wind Energy Systems Licensing Ordinance, which was so restrictive that Midwest Wind Energy’s project was no longer viable. In January 2008, the Town of Stockbridge received two Notices of Claim. The result – no turbines.

I risk sounding repetitive by chronicling the turbine siting history of the Town of Stockbridge, but we have such a vivid history of failure that actions paint a more revealing picture than words could ever convey. In the past, the Stockbridge Town Board has shown a total disregard for turbine siting recommendations made by either Calumet County or the State of Wisconsin. The Board is familiar with litigation and does not fear it. As participating landowners in this wind project, we are part of the majority of citizens who are ready to embrace the prospect of alternative energy fueling our futures.

But there is a core group in Stockbridge that remains opposed to wind development, and they are relentless in their zeal to take the reins and steer the Stockbridge Town Board—and now the Calumet County Board—toward their goal, which is no turbines in Stockbridge. They were instrumental in the recall election of County Board Supervisor Jerry Criter, whose district includes all of Brothertown, and parts of Stockbridge and Chilton townships. They were unsuccessful in removing him from his position, but their defamatory allegations will not be forgotten any time soon. Nor will the taxpayers soon forget the unnecessary financial burden caused by a bogus sense of urgency created by the recall effort, as Jerry’s term would have expired 49 days later.

I believe that this Township and this County, along with many others across the state, have exhausted their resources trying to resolve this conflict. We appear to be too polarized to make any further progress. It is time for the State to take up the laboring oar in this effort, to find a common ground workable to settle our differences and move forward toward achieving our goals. Please adopt legislation to establish uniform standards for local review of wind projects.


Barb, THE Mailbox Lady said...

All I can say is "how sad". Solar and wind are the ONLY way to go as far as I am concerned. Time to move out of the Town of Stockbridge - it sure does not soulnd like a reasonable place to live.