STATEMENT ON PASSAGE IN SENATE OF SB 185
The Coalition for Wisconsin Environmental Stewardship (CWESt) has worked diligently for the last 2 years to try to craft wind siting legislation that would respect property rights and lead to wise regulatory decisions. We have put forth numerous suggestions and turned out hundreds for public hearings to express our concerns.
SB 185 does not represent a compromise or reasonable approach to wind siting.
While we appreciate the efforts of many Senators to amend or rework the bill, there still exist several problem areas that need to be addressed.
1 – The bill gives local governments no power to require that wind developers have done their homework, or are even in a position to build the project. Developers should be required to conduct the same Environmental Assessment that larger projects do and should have to show proof of financial capacity to complete the project.
2 – The bill contains no provision to protect landowners’ property rights. CWESt released a scientific study last week that shows property values decline 30-40% in the area adjacent to a wind development. This represents a “taking” of a person’s property without their consent. The bill should allow local governments the ability to force developers to compensate neighbors for their losses.
3 – Right now developers can, and have, violated the existing regulations with impunity as local citizens have no easy process to rectify the problem. For example, a woman in Fond du Lac County has a turbine 850’ from her home, when the requirement is to be at 1000’. Under existing laws and SB 185, she has no recourse short of suing the wind developer, potentially costing her thousands of dollars, just to get what is legally her right. This bill should put in place a simple process to enforce the rules that developers have agreed to.
Although we still feel very strongly that local governments should maintain some degree of local control over land use decisions, CWESt has offered the above recommendations in the spirit of compromise. We hope the State Assembly will address these concerns.
Please feel free to contact our representative for more information: Bob Welch at 608-819-0150.
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