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Delayed Wis. wind farm gets potential path forward

Thedeveloper of a proposed 102.5-MW wind project in Wisconsin said it may beginconstruction on the project later this year after state regulators recentlyvoted in the developer's favor against local opponents who are concerned aboutnoise and disturbances from the wind turbines.

TheHighland windfarm has been tied up in court since a 2013 approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin,but on July 7 the PSC voted to allow the project to proceed without specialnoise restrictions that had been at the center of the court case, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

In2015 a state circuit court ruled that the approval of Highland should beremanded back to the PSC because, among other reasons, the commission had notaddressed why a requirement that the project abide by a 40-decibel nighttimenoise standard was applied only to some residences around the project and notothers, according to a May 20 memorandum filed with the PSC.The commission's July 7 vote was in response to that order.The PSC does not immediately issue written orders following its votes.

Thedeveloper of Highland told the newspaper after the vote that it could startbuilding the wind farm by the end of the year. According to the project'swebsite, the developer is Highland Wind Farm LLC, which is managed byEEW Services,affiliated with Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, an LLC established in 2003 tobuild wind projects.

Butduring the PSC meeting, Ellen Nowak, who chairs the commission, said sheexpects the case will be back in court, the newspaper said.

Thetown of Forest, Wis., in Saint Croix County, one of the towns in which Highlandwould be built, has led the fight against the project and was the opposingparty to the PSC in the court case. The town submitted severalstudies to the commission that lay out potential adverse health effects causedby wind turbines, such as epileptic seizures from shadow flicker. Supporters ofthe project such as the environmental group Clean Wisconsin, however, alsosubmitted studies, such as one conducted in Denmark that found no significantrelationship between residential proximity to wind turbines and a number ofdifferent health symptoms, according to the memorandum.

At$250 million and 41 turbines, according to its website, Highland is the largestof three wind projects being pursued by Emerging Energies of Wisconsin.The company said it is also working on the Beautiful Hill Wind Farm, proposedfor the Wisconsin towns of Mishicot and Two Rivers in Manitowoc County. Thatproject would consist of seven turbines to produce 15 MW to 21 MW. The third projectis the four-turbine Windy Acres Wind Farm, with a capacity of 9 MW to 12 MW andproposed for the Wisconsin towns of Sherman and Holland in Sheboygan County.