To The Editor:
I am writing in regard to the article in the Tribune Press Reporter dated October 29, 2014, entitled “St. Croix Judge hears oral arguments in Forest vs. PSC” covering the judicial review for which the judge listened to attorneys on October 21, 2014.
The Town of Forest is the plaintiff, the PSC is the defendant. The PSC is attempting to defend its actions, and since they first denied and then approved the CPCN for Highland Wind Farm, they have a wide range of material from which to pick and choose.
The PSC lawyer John Lorence was not present, but I’m thinking that maybe the PSC did themselves a disservice by having the younger Mr. Chasco, because whenever I have seen John Lorence he seemed a decent mature person whose laid-back demeanor might have flown better with the judge. I actually felt sorry for Mr. Chasco trying to answer the questions; it can’t be a fun job to come in and try to defend other people’s actions in retrospect, but that’s what he gets paid for (our tax dollars at work).
Many of us Forest residents noticed that the PSC and HWF lawyers were sitting together, and that is because HWF signed on as an “intervenor” in the case. Much of the discussion centered on whether the PSC did their job (protecting the health and safety of the residents) by doing due diligence, or whether HWF did it for them by volunteering to lower the dba at a few residences, and it flew with the PSC. It sure was convenient that Mr. Jaeger was “sick” that day and could not be questioned because that was the last day of questioning. Many of us Forest residents were in Madison that day, and I remember thinking that the PSC’s most important thing to get done that day was to finish the hearings. So whenever the Town’s attorney Glenn Reynolds asked to have more sensitive residents, such as a child with autism or a child with ADD, included, the PSC judge said nope, too late, we’re out of time.
Whatever happened to the old adage that my husband and I grew up with: “Do it right or don’t bother doing it at all”?
I do believe that Judge Vlack was correct, that whatever he decides it will be appealed. Meanwhile, the tide is turning for the wind industry in general, as more and more knowledge comes to light. For example, the Shirley Wind project by the same developer as HWF has been declared a health hazard. Why is that information not top priority, front and center, instead of focusing on what the PSC did or did not do two years ago? Let’s use some common sense. It boggles the mind.
There are some statements in the Tribune article which I wish to comment on:
“The PSC has approved large wind turbine projects on four different occasions…” What do they mean by large? None as big as these proposed for Forest. I wrote in my notes that this is the fourth time a CPCN was issued for “non-small.”
The remainder of that sentence, “although the Highland CPCN was the first for which PSC 128 rules applied” I take issue with. That was a point of contention on October 21. The judge entertained responses from the attorneys, one of which said it does, and one of which said it doesn’t. I wrote in my notes “one big difference of opinion,” so someone said that!
In fact, I have been wondering for years what the term “shall consider” meant, does it mean the PSC can do anything they want? I guess so.
“There is no scientific evidence that anyone is affected by wind turbine noise,” was the PSC lawyer’s opinion, which is really laughable. The PSC ordered the tests done at the Shirley Wind Farm which clearly showed that infrasound was clearly present, and that’s why the three families can no longer live in their homes. I think the developer of Highland Wind Farm should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to innocent people, but they don’t care because they no longer own that project, and it’s not their problem. But they want us Forest residents to believe there will be no such problems here, despite the fact that the proposed Highland Wind Farm would be over five times larger.
“During the hearings on the CPCN, everyone who wanted to was allowed to testify, Lorence said. If people could not attend the hearings, they had many months to submit testimony through the PSC’s website or through letters sent by mail, he noted.” Well, that’s partially true. I guess we should be glad they let us comment, but I wrote in my notes “B.S.” because I recall one 8-day period where I complained it was not long enough, and it sure was convenient that their website was down for maintenance over the weekend and the day before testimonies were due.
I do not recall the term “Smart Growth” being bandied about during the afternoon of October 21. The Town of Forest’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan was adopted in 2009 and amended in 2013. I don’t believe the phrase in the article “that completely replaces the original Smart Growth Plan” is correct; in fact, the very next sentence says “the amended plan”. The statement about the notice of claim being filed was irrelevant, in my opinion, and has nothing to do with the current article regarding the Town of Forest vs. the PSC.
“If wind turbines were a concern in the Town of Forest, why was that issue not addressed when the comprehensive plan was being developed the first time, Judge Vlack wondered.” It’s because several of those people who were working on the Comprehensive Plan had signed contracts with Highland Wind Farm which included a confidentiality clause. They could not put in the written Town Plan what their plans were to host wind turbines on their property. So that information was conveniently kept under wraps, until the day after the October 9, 2012, hearings in Madison, when Highland’s lawyers had all three members of the previous town board, who were defeated in a recall, write cookie-cutter affidavits that they knew before-hand that the turbines would be large.
I hope the above feedback gives your readers some more information and perspective on the ongoing wind farm case.