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Forest Voice pleased with St. Croix County circuit court decision

submitted by Brenda Salseg, The Forest Voice

The Forest Voice is pleased with St. Croix County circuit court Judge Vlack’s August 27, 2015 decision regarding the Town of Forest in Town of Forest v. Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC). The judge’s thorough examination of the record found the PSC erred in adopting a new percentage compliance standard without proper notice and hearing and resulted in unauthorized rulemaking that exceeded its authority. The Forest Voice believes the “set aside” decision inactivates the wind developer’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN or permit) at this point in time.

The PSC’s “95% of the time” noise compliance standard was adopted by the Commission in the reopen hearing. Originally the PSC denied Highland Wind a permit to construct the 41 to 44 wind turbine 102.5 megawatt project based on the wind developer’s own data that clearly showed noncompliance with Chapter PSC 128 noise and shadow flicker standards. Through a reopening of the proceedings, the wind developer offered a curtailment scheme to achieve compliance and, with a reversal of one commissioner’s vote, Highland Wind was granted a CPCN. The PSC apparently adopted the “95% of the time” rule based on a comment made by the wind developer’s paid expert, David Hessler, who said that if a wind project achieved absolute noise standards “95% of the time,“ he would consider the project in compliance.

Judge Vlack ruled that more explanation by the PSC was due as to why six sensitive residences with health conditions were selected for lower noise standards while eleven other similar residences on record were denied consideration. Judge Vlack also made note of apparent ex parte communications between PSC staff and the wind developer in the selection of the six sensitive residences that excluded participation by the Town and the Forest Voice in those determinations.

The Forest Voice believes the PSC got it right the first time when Highland Wind was denied a permit as not in the public interest. The developer, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, LLC, is a for-profit corporation with no contract under an electric utility and no power purchase agreement to sell the proposed wind facility’s possible electricity generation should the subsidized project construct and become operational. Emerging Energies is the same wind developer responsible for building the Shirley Wind project in Glenmore, Brown County, Wisconsin where at least eighty residents have documented wind turbine related health problems. The Brown County Board of Health has declared Shirley Wind a human health hazard due to infrasonic sound pressures inside Glenmore residents’ homes.

Brenda Salseg, spokesperson for the Forest Voice, states “As a majority, the residents and taxpayers of Forest have four times voted for and approved the actions of the Town of Forest board of supervisors, who are committed to protecting the health and safety of Forest residents. The majority has made it clear that we are unwilling to live within a wind generated electrical facility with the associated health effects that no doubt will afflict our population. We look forward to new hearings that we hope will result in the Wisconsin PSC reverting back to its original decision wherein the Commission sensibly, compassionately, and in the public interest denied a permit for Highland Wind.”