Wisconsin regulators approved a $250 million wind farm Friday that its proponents said would generate energy for 72,000 homes and opponents warned would kill migratory birds.
MADISON, Wis. Wisconsin regulators approved a $250 million wind farm Friday that its proponents said would generate energy for 72,000 homes and opponents warned would kill migratory birds.
Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC hopes to begin work later this year on the 200-megawatt wind farm on 50 square miles in southern Wisconsin.
One opponent predicted the 133 turbines -- each 389 feet tall with three 126-foot-long blades -- will produce a "slaughter" of birds that stop in a nearby marsh.
But Neil Palmer, a consultant for the Invenergy subsidiary created for the project, said no evidence supports such claims, and the bird mortality rate near other wind farms is very low.
The three-member Public Service Commission voted 2-0 to approve the project on land in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties. Chairman Dan Ebert noted that a coal-fired plant producing the same amount of energy would emit 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide, among other pollutants.
The commission required the company to keep the turbines at least two miles from Horicon Marsh, a resting place for more than 1 million Canada geese in the spring and fall. The marsh also attracts dozens of other bird species.
Joe Breaden, president of the Horicon Marsh System Advocates, said he's not opposed to a wind farm in the area but argued the turbines need to be at least five miles from the marsh. Opponents are weighing their legal options, including filing suit in an attempt to stop the plant, Breaden said.
A task force created by Gov. Jim Doyle recommended 10 percent of Wisconsin's energy come from renewable sources by 2015. Counting electricity generated by dams, the state is now at 4 percent, according to the commission.
There are currently 55 turbines on five wind farms spread across Wisconsin generating 53 megawatts of energy.
Source: Associated Press