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PORTAGE - The Columbia County Board of Supervisors offered tepid approval Wednesday to a resolution declaring electricity-generating wind turbines on five parcels of farmland are in keeping with the landowners' farmland preservation agreements with the state.

But the non-unanimous voice vote assent didn't come without questions about the effects of the turbines on farming, and about how the county's approval or disapproval of the resolution might affect the future of what could soon be the state's largest wind energy farm.

We Energies plans to build Glacier Hills Energy Park, beginning this spring, on leased farmland in the towns of Randolph and Scott. Plans call for up to 90 wind turbines, capable of generating up to 207 megawatts of electricity.

Five of the parcels leased for turbine locations - four in the town of Randolph, one in the town of Scott - are subject to farmland preservation agreements with the state.

The intent of the resolution was to declare the county's conclusion that locating a turbine on the land is not inconsistent with the agreement that the land must continue to be used for agricultural purposes.

But why, asked Supervisor Debra Wopat of Rio, is Columbia County even addressing this issue?

The towns of Randolph and Scott are not covered under the county's zoning ordinances. And the farmland preservation agreements, she said, are between the landowners and the state's Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection.

Kurt Calkins, director of Columbia County's land and water conservation department, said it was the county board that originally approved forwarding the farmland preservation agreements to the state - so the County Board has to authorize a change in the agreement to reflect the presence of the windmills. The DATCP will agree that the windmills do not impede agricultural use of the land if the county also agrees to that, he said.

"The real question is, do you deem them consistent with agricultural use? That's the question the state has asked us to answer," Calkins said.

Supervisor Fred Teitgen of rural Poynette questioned whether the turbines are good for rural areas.

"There are problems with large wind turbine systems, especially with noise and shadow flicker," he said.

That was why Teitgen proposed amending the resolution to say, "Columbia County believes [that] a wind turbine structure may not (instead of will not) conflict with continued agricultural use in the area,"

He also proposed adding to the resolution a condition that the turbines should be sited properly in accordance with Wisconsin Public Service Commission standards and local requirements.

This amendment failed on a voice vote.

Supervisor Brian Landers of Wisconsin Dells said he was concerned that the revision might imply that the county can or should provide oversight for the construction of the We Energies turbines. If that's the case, Landers asked, then which department would be responsible for the oversight, and at what cost to the county?

"I would be hesitant to add language that we somehow have a governance of this if we don't have the legal authority to do so," Landers said.

When Supervisor John Tramburg of Fall River asked how much farmland would be consumed by the turbines and related structures such as roads, Walter "Doc" Musekamp of We Energies said that, among the five land tracts in question, a total of 3.4 acres would be taken out of production for roads and foundations.

Construction of the roads and other ancillary structures is expected to start this spring.

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(5) comments

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Jim Wiegand

What Should Be On US Department of Energy Fact Sheet

Fact: The developers of Altamont pass had so little concern for the death of thousands of eagles, hawks, owls, and vultures from wind turbines that they added more turbines and greatly expanded the Altamont Pass wind resource area. Access to other wind farms in America was greatly restricted because of the negative publicity from Altamont Pass. House cats, cars, buildings, any most other human related activities are not a factor in the survival of many rare species bird because of the isolation of their habitats. Aside from deforestation, the primary human activity that kills protected bird species across the world is the invasion of propeller style wind turbines into their isolated habitats.

Jim Wiegand

What Should Be On US Department of Energy Fact Sheet

Fact. Millions of Birds are killed by wind turbines each year. Most are protected species and some are endangered. Wind turbines are the most likely cause for the recent population declines of bird species throughout Europe because tens of thousands of these turbines have invaded their habitats. Migratory bird species that visit Europe are also in a rapid state of decline. Wind turbines are very lethal because of their 220 mph tip speed and are known to kill every species of bird that is forced to share their habitat them.

Jim Wiegand

Fraudulent information posted on the US Department of Energy Web site ......... http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/filter_detail.asp?itemid=963
Wind Energy Myths Fact Sheet
Wind turbines kill birds and thus have serious environmental impacts. Bird kills have caused serious scientific concern at only one location in the United States: Altamont Pass in California, one of the first areas in the country to experience significant wind development. Over the past decade, the wind community has learned that wind farms and wildlife can and do coexist successfully. Wind energy development’s overall impact on birds is extremely low (<1 of 30,000) compared to other human-related causes, such as buildings, communications towers, traffic, and house cats. Birds can fly into wind turbines, as they do with other tall structures. However, conventional fuels contribute to air and water pollution that can have far greater impact on wildlife and their habitat, as well as the environment and human health.

Jim Wiegand

Facts that will not be reveled by the wind turbine peddlers:


Facts Found on The Poland Wind Energy Site

http://www.psew.pl/en/guidelines_for_assessment_of_wind_farms_impact_on_birds

4. Development of wind projects is likely to cause:

a. Bird mortality caused by collisions with operating turbines and/or elements

of auxiliary infrastructure, in particular overhead power lines;

b. Decrease in population due to loss and fragmentation of habitats caused

by deterring effect of the wind turbines and/or development of

communication and energy infrastructure related to operations of the wind

turbines,

c. Disturbance to populations, in particular to short- and long - range bird

migrations (the barrier effect).

5. Mortality caused by collisions and loss of habitats are key in terms of likely

adverse effects on birds populations.

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