Forest town board approves bus trip for anticipated final decision on the Highland Wind Project Sept. 26

by Jaime Junker, Town of Forest Chairman

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin cautions that the September 26th date to take up the Highland Wind Application is a tentative date; the Town of Forest has planned accordingly.

All Forest residents are encouraged to attend this historic bus trip to Madison where the three state commissioners are anticipated to conduct their vote on the Highland Wind Farm application.  The date, by its nature, is a tentative date and the PSC has requested all parties caution in communicating the date of September 26th, and is not bound by this date, and has fully explained the reasons for such caution.  In effect, the date of the decision could change.  Never-the-less a bus from Forest has been approved to leave Forest on September 26th for this historic event.

On August 14th & 15th 2013 The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin conducted hearings on Highland Wind Farm, LLCs application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity To Construct a 102.5 Mega Watt Electric Generation Facility with wind Turbines being located in Forest and related equipment to be located in Cylon.

The Town of Forest has intervened in this project which means it is a party to the official Public Service Commission proceedings.  The Town of Forest through its town board is opposed to this project due to a number of health and safety reasons.  Of major concern is that during the 2012 hearings, three families from Shirley, Wisconsin testified under oath in front of the Public Service Commission that they have abandoned their primary residences due to the effects that they believe are caused by the Shirley Wind Farm which is an eight turbine wind farm and was developed by Highland Wind Farm, LLC.  Highland no longer owns the Shirley wind farm.  In January the Wisconsin Town’s Association Communicated to the State of Wisconsin that they support a moratorium on large wind turbines until the safety factors are better understood.

In the last two weeks, the Town of Forest requested that the Public Service Commission give the town its best estimate for when the Commission would take up this matter and vote.  The Town acknowledged that such a request of the Public Service Commission for a decision date was unique, but never-the-less requested the Commission through the commission’s legal council to give the town its best estimate.  The town was pleased with the commission’s cautionary response.

The Town estimates that the bus transportation will leave the Forest Town Hall at 5:30 AM.  The  Public Service Commission is expected to take up the issue on September 26th, but has asked the town of Forest and other parties to the proceedings to communicate that this date, by its very nature, is tentative and the commission is not bound to take up the issue on the 26th of September.  An example given is that if a commissioner would request more time to examine the evidence, such a request would generally be given to that commissioner, even as late as the morning of an open session.

The Town of Forest is cautiously optimistic that the application will be turned down by the Public Service Commission.  During the recent expert testimony hearings in Madison, the experts for the interveners opposed to this project testified that the developers’ sound models lacked the accuracy to predict what the sound of the project would be.  One expert revealed that the developer failed to use in their calculations of sound a measure of safety due to the sound modeling software’s stated tolerance limitations.

Additional details including how to pay the $15 per person bus fee can be obtained by emailing town clerk Marilyn Benson at foresttownclerk@gmail.com or town chairman Jaime Junker at jaime.forestgov@gmail.com

The town of Forest has posted at the town hall that because multiple board members may be in attendance for this trip, a quorum of the board may be in attendance.