Neighbors object to Sheboygan County wind farm project

Hubertus-based Emerging Energies of Wisconsin wants to build a four-turbine, $25 million wind farm on a 400-acre site in southern Sheboygan County. However, dozens of residents in the area are objecting to the project.

The wind farm would be located east of the village of Adell on a site east of Highway 57, west of county trunk Highway CC and north of county trunk Highway A. The company hopes to gain approval for the project in 2013 from the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) and could have the wind farm operational by late 2013 or 2014, said Bill Rakocy, the founding principal of Emerging Energies of Wisconsin.

Rakocy declined to disclose the funding source for the project, but said it will not be subsidized with public funds.

When the blades of the wind farm are at their highest point they would reach up to 500 feet high, which would be taller than all but the two tallest buildings in downtown Milwaukee.

State law requires the wind farms to be at least 1,250 feet away from any neighboring home. However, that’s not far enough for several area residents that are objecting to the project.

“There are much better places suited for industrial wind farms,” said Town of Sherman resident Edward Buck, one of several area residents that opposes the project.

Some residents have expressed concerns that the wind farms will diminish their property values and some are concerned about the effect that the noise and shadow flicker of the wind turbines will have on them, said Town of Sherman Chairman William Goehring.

“It’s such a hot issue,” he said. “There are positives and negatives.”

Rakocy says the positives of the project are that it would produce renewable energy and create jobs at several businesses in the state

“This thing is an important opportunity for us to have clean energy,” he said.

Businesses in the state that would supply parts or components for the wind farm include Ingeteam in Milwaukee, Avanti Wind Systems Inc. in New Berlin and Wausaukee Composites Inc. in Wausaukee, Rakocy said.

“We’re looking at creating as many jobs as possible in Wisconsin,” he said.

However, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin has not determined who would use the power created by the wind farm, Rakocy said. The power created by the wind farm probably will be used in Wisconsin, he said.

“Energy goes to the closest possible use,” he said.

However, a spokeswoman for Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corp. said the company has its own wind farms and has no interest or involvement in the Sheboygan County project.

“As far as I know we have no interest in purchasing that power,” said Wisconsin Energy spokeswoman Cathy Schulze.

Wisconsin Energy already has the 90-turbine Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County, which is the largest wind farm in the state, and the 88-turbine Blue Sky Green Field wind farm in Fond du Lac, Schulze said. Also, Wisconsin Energy plans to purchase the Montfort Wind Farm in Iowa County from NextEra Energy Inc., she said. The purchase is pending the approval of the PSC.

Under the state’s renewable energy requirements for utilities, Wisconsin Energy Corp. must produce 8.27 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2015, Schulze said.

“We are poised to do that,” she said.

Schulze declined to say if Wisconsin Energy would maintain wind farm operations without a state renewable energy requirement.

“(Wind energy) is an important part of our overall portfolio,” she said. “It’s important to have a diverse portfolio.”

The wind turbines planned by Emerging Energies in Sheboygan County are larger than the Wisconsin Energy turbines and would be able to produce more power per turbine. The Emerging Energies turbine would produce 2.5 megawatts each per hour. Each turbine could produce enough energy to power 1,000 homes, Rakocy said.

The Glacier Hills turbines produce 1.8 megawatts and the Blue Sky Green Field turbines produce 1.65 megawatts, according to Wisconsin Energy Corp.

The wind turbines proposed by Emerging Energies in Sheboygan County are the tallest that are allowed by the FAA, Rakocy said.

“You’ll see it for miles,” Buck said.

Goehring estimated that the turbines would be visible from up to 8-9 miles away.

“(The site is) kind of on a ridge,” he said.

Buck said one of his biggest concerns is the sound that the wind turbines will make.

“(Wind turbines) are very noisy,” he said. “It’s like a rumble. You hear it almost continuously when they move. It’s a perpetual sound when it’s there. As long as they are operating you have that sound.”

More remote areas with higher wind levels such as South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Texas are more appropriate for wind farms, Buck said.

Town of Sherman officials have limits on what they can do to regulate the project, Goehring said. The town cannot create requirements for a wind farm that are more stringent than state regulations. The town is planning to create its own wind farm ordinance to make sure the facility is well maintained, he said.

“I want to ensure that the codes are followed and the town is protected to the extent that we can,’ Goehring said.

Emerging Energies has only developed one other wind farm, the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County. The company no longer controls that wind farm, Rakocy said.

Some residents near the Shirley Wind Farm have complained of health problems, including headaches and problems sleeping, as a result of the turbines. Rakocy declined to comment on those complaints, specifically, but did address general health concerns that have been expressed by some neighbors of wind farms.

“I’m quite intrigued when I see people living near turbines who have no problems but then people living farther away complain of health problems,” he said. “I can’t get my arms around that one.”

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