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NO-UPLANDS COMMUNITY ACTIONS

Opportunity for Volunteers to discuss and plan efforts to stop the 600 MW Uplands wind power plant proposal in Iowa and Lafayette counties.. Educational and signage materials will be available. The meeting starts at 6:30 pm on Thursday, November 4, 2021. The Quality Inn is located at 1345 Business Park Road in Mineral Point, WI. Google Map Directions. For more information , contact info@No-Uplands.com .

Below: Large Turnout of Southern and Southwestern Wisconsin Residents at UPLANDS WIND OPPOSITION Listening Session with Wisconsin Lawmakers Sen. Howard Marklein, Rep. Todd Novak and Rep. Travis Tranel, May 28, Belmont, Wisconsin

No-Upalnds.com event organizer, George Schwarzmann, addresses Listening Session attendees at the Belmont Convention Center, Belmont, Wisconsin.

Receiving verbal and written comments from more than 100 residents at the May 28th Listening Session, seated left to right are staff person Katy Prange, Wisconsin State Senator Howard Marklein, State Representative Todd Novak and State Representative, Travis Tranel


NEW RESOLUTION!!!
At the May 28, 2021Belmont WI Listening Session, four Wisconsin law/code change requests were personally submitted to Wisconsin State Sen. Marklein, Rep. Novak and Rep. Tranel by more than 100 attendees. These changes have since been drafted into an elegant RESOLUTION by Supervisors of St. Croix County for adoption by any county, town, village or city in Wisconsin.

WHO WE ARE

We are a collection of diverse residents concerned about numerous negative impacts of a very large (600 MW) UPLANDS wind power plant being pursued in Iowa and Lafayette Counties (WI) by Pattern LLC.2 The multinational company appears to need a significant number of additional signed contracts7 with property owners in order to meet interconnection requirements and apply to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to construct the second largest wind power plant in the Midwest. 1

We support reduction of CO2 emissions. To this end, we adamantly study proposals and alternatives. In general, we rank customer-based energy alternatives above utility-scale power plants with accountable CO2 reductions as our guide (more below). Visitors are welcome to make comments and ask questions. We may also be contacted through info@No-Uplands.com

OUR ACTIVITIES

We are helping property owners in the affected Iowa and Lafayette County municipalities, mapped below, understand negative impacts they are unaware of. We encourage self-research and believe it is in the best interests of the public and wisconsin electric ratepayers and environmentalists- for landowners to not sign contracts (option agreements) with Pattern LLC:

How you can help:

  • Display a YARD SIGN on your property or at your business to help spread concern. Signs are free if visibly posted on potentially impacted large parcels of land or on major roads. Donations are requested from general supporters to help recover volunteer, out of pocket expenses.
  • Make sure your neighbors are informed. No-Uplands.com has produced an extensive, 10 page article addressing many concerns about the proposal that can be printed out, stapled and mailed to your neighbors with a first class stamp or handed to them in-person. For quality and accountability purposes, the article contains many footnotes with links to source studies and documents. The footnotes appearing in the article become fully operative when one is reading the electronic version that can be accessed on line: https://bit.ly/uplands-m and downloaded for storing and reading on one’s computer (Download Instructions).
  • Receive updates for you and your neighbors by emailing the following contact information to info@no-uplands.com : (a) Full Name (b) Email Address, (c) Street Address and (d) Affected Property Location if different from mailing address.
  • Better Inform yourself in order to become more conversant with neighbors and your elected officials. No-Uplands volunteers have assembled reading resources they have found useful on our READING page.
  • Volunteer to help No-Uplands distribute materials, research topics you are interested in, write letters to papers and communicate with your elected officials.

Better Alternatives to Address CO2 Reductions

Wisconsin already has more electrical power plants than we can use.19 (Table) As electric customers, we must pay the high interest debt on existing and added power plants over 40 years whether fully utilized or not. Pattern LLC’s inferred electric bill savings from the “zero fuel costs”20 of wind power compare very poorly to directly addressing our CO2 and economic challenges with familiar alternatives.

For example, If the approximate, 40 year, $1.8 billion cost21 for the 600 MW Uplands wind power plant was invested, instead, into dramatically increased Focus on Energy rebates for efficiency and solar power improvements for our homes, farms and businesses, this would eliminate about 115 million metric tons of CO2 emissions over 40 years compared to 58 million metric tons from the intrusive power plant.22 (Table 3). Alternatively doubling the home/business solar panel incentive to 52 cents of the approximate $2.50 per watt cost could empower about 450,000 households to “go solar” and save an average of $143 per month.23 Creating attractive appliance and equipment rebates for Wisconsin families and businesses would enable long overdue efficiency and dwelling improvements with the superior environmental results.24 See comparison Table.

There are also critical climate change and energy planning considerations for stopping the very costly Uplands proposal in its tracks. Wisconsin energy law deregulations at the turn of the century excluded “merchant” power plants built by developers like Pattern from normal evaluation by the State of Wisconsin. As a result, Pattern would not be required to demonstrate that there is an electrical need for the plant or to honor Wisconsin Energy Priority Law by conducting economic and CO2 reduction analysis comparing benefits of investing the same $1.8 billion into highly attractive conservation, energy efficiency and local power alternatives. 29

Visibility of Uplands Turbines

Despite obtaining legally-binding option agreements with landowners, Pattern has yet to provide landowners, the public or elected officials specifics about the turbine equipment they plan to use. At the 600 Megawatt (MW) size officially reported to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,6 the system would include at least 1703 industrial-scale wind turbines at 3.5 MW per unit. Modern turbines of this electrical capacity have heights of around 650 feet. If located in western Iowa and Lafayette Counties, views of the power plant system would permeate the natural horizon from the outskirts of Madison to the bluffs of the Mississippi River4 negatively affecting property values over 250 square miles of the Driftless area.5

Unfortunately, Pattern is not required to hold public information meetings or printed materials for landowners or communities to evaluate at the most critical time: when landowners are signing fateful contracts. This is all too common industry practice. Iowa farmer, Mason Fleenor, looking back on the promotion of large-scale modern turbines in his community observed,

“Nobody knew they were going to be this loud, or hurt our property values or be this big. . . No one wants to build around these windmills so you just cut your economic activity down. . . I want to see the countryside.” 8 – Mason Fleenor, Ida Grove, Iowa (video interview)

Negative Impacts from Decline in Property Values

Impacts on Tax Diversion Payments to Local Government Units

Local and state taxes are no longer collected for land with wind turbines. Independent studies estimate property value losses from 15 to 45%.9 Landowners and local officials need to stop and carefully analyze whether the diverted state tax dollar subsidy for losses due to the power plant are large enough to make up for the tax base and personal property losses that are risked as properties are sold at lower values over 40 years. As summarized in Table 1, If the average parcel of impacted land is 100 acres and only 1% of property across the impact area is sold per year at a loss of 10%, the payments to the governmental units would be $100 million lower than these losses.10

Compared to areas beyond the view of the towering power plants, local tax bases can become persistently compromised. As happens in urban areas, steadily declining property values tend to add extra burdens on taxpayers and the local economy by causing mill rates to increase at the same time compatible agricultural, residential and business development vanishes.

Impacts on Potential Income & Rights Under Turbine Land Use Leases

Keep in mind that unaffected farmland in Wisconsin appreciates in value at the rate of about 4% per year. Landowners pondering the possibility of new, net income from a 40 year wind turbine lease are encouraged to get an experienced attorney to carefully review the 60 page contract and to estimate the long term impacts of property devaluation in proportion to lease payments. For example, using this spreadsheet, if the value of one’s land drops at 29%, the average of the independent studies, it would take decades of lease payments to make up for this loss.11 

As for altered property rights, wording in the “option agreement” compels a landowner to give up right to determine where turbines, wide access roads and electrical lines would be located.12 The uncertainty makes it impossible to accurately inform neighbors of pending hard ships, not to mention, obtain their informed, blessing.

Negative Health Impacts

Readers with doubts that turbine noise thoroughly shatters natural soundscapes and peaceful living are encouraged to spend some time internet searching for personal video testimony about “wind turbine noise.”13 Wisconsin state code allows wind turbines to generate a 45 dBA sound level during the night and 50 dBA level during the day.14 The noise, often described as a “hovering plane”15 is about four times louder than quiet sounds that comprise natural sounds.16 The resulting sleeplessness, nausea, disorientation and depression has forced families in Wisconsin and other states to vacate their homes and farms– even with turbines half the size of those being proposed.17 Follow this search with “wind turbine shadow flicker,” an equally disruptive experience that Wisconsin code also allows households to endure.18

The violent churning of the air by turbine blades can create powerful, sub-sonic, air concussions that are palpable to humans and other animals. There are abundant web Interviews with landowners documenting severe nausea, dizziness, headaches and sleep loss. In addition one can find lectures on the phenomenon including ones by Dr. Robert Rand, a respected researcher in the field. Dr. Rand personally documents the negative health impacts he personally experienced at the Shirley Wind facility in Wisconsin in 2012 in his testimony to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission:

“During testing Mr. Rand again experienced some of the adverse health effects reported by the neighbors. [He] stay[ed] in two of the homes for extended periods of time overnight to experience what they are reporting. . . Wind turbine sound levels were faintly detectable with interior sound levels in the range of 18-20 dBA. . .  [H]e had arrived the previous night feeling good, [but] on awakening on December 5, Mr. Rand felt nauseous (very unusual). Mr. Rand [also] encountered unusual negative health effects during the testing period when near the operating wind turbines, including, at various times: nausea, headache and dizziness.  [The] symptoms persisted after the testing for about a week, relieved by rest away from the site.” See pdf p. 37 and notes p. 42-44.

Considerably furthering the degree of risk, Wisconsin law does not protect landowners and their neighbors when ill effects from subsonic air concussions are experienced.

Another nuisance and sometimes negative health impact that residents report is a light flickering effect when rapidly moving shadows from the turbine blades interrupt sunlight. Again, the phenomenon is well-documented in online videos. Wind developers use computer modeling to estimate where the effect is likely to occur to attempt to avoid existing residencies. However, the technique does not prevent disturbances where residences and other dwellings could, otherwise, be added in the future. Similar to the ill effects from audible noise, state code pertaining to shadow flicker does not prohibit residents from experiencing hardships, it only defines how much is “permitted.”

Lacking Local Government Protections

Further complicating protections for landowners and local governments, the limited state codes are only in effect when they are also cited in Wind Siting Ordinances adopted by local municipalities and counties. Currently, Iowa and Lafayette County ordinances lack a large number of code provisions including those for:

  • Negative health impacts for large wind turbines;
  • Secured bonds to cover the extensive decommissioning costs of removing turbines in the case the utility owner encounters financial difficulties. (State code permits the massive foundations to be left behind);
  • Required public information meetings; and
  • Analysis of impacts on local economies including future housing and business development within view of the dramatically industrialized landscape– both at day and at night.
Night view of the blinking lights of a large, wind power plant near the small communities of Genoa and Hugo, Colorado. (Photo by RJ Sangost / Denver Post)

Hopefully, landowners will speak up and encourage their County officials to act quickly and to at least add the allowable, minimal protections to their Wind Ordinances.28 Towns, villages and cities would be prudent to quickly adopt the same wording in creating their own ordinances with the option of adding additional provisions they would like to see future wind developers honor.

Uplands Requires Addition of Cardinal Hickory Creek 345 kV Expansion Transmission Line

The public accessible report that Pattern LLC was obliged to file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission officially confirmed that the 600 MW wind system is fully dependent on building the Cardinal Hickory Creek 345 kV expansion transmission line that would span Western Dane, Iowa and Grant counties. 25 Landowners who sign agreements with Pattern are directly in conflict with the interests of Iowa and Dane Counties who are actively appealing the state’s approval of the $628 million line in courts. 26

Wisconsin energy use is flat and can be significantly reduced by re-directing any “spare” billions that ratepayers have to improving efficiencies of our homes, farms and businesses. In contrast to one or two years of work for out of state turbine builders, the local power path creates long term, community-stabilizing energy jobs nurtured by Wisconsin-owned businesses.

As ratepayers have observed in the explosion of unaccountable expansion transmission lines across Wisconsin over the last decade, utility expansion begets more utility expansion. Soberly, if not publicly confronted, transmission planning records reveal a potential outbreak of as many as 54, remotely-located merchant power plants transforming diverse, compatible land uses into energy districts.

Protecting Rural Wisconsin From Utility Districts

Iowa, Lafayette and Grant County landowners and residents have been given the opportunity to resist the Uplands proposal and set an example that could prevent dozens of utility districts from setting roots. Table 2, below, uses data from several utility and governmental sources to show Wisconsin excess power plant capability since 1980. 19 Note that in 2017, approximately 550 square miles of Wisconsin lands were experiencing negative property value pressure from the increasing presence of larger renewable power plants. If utility interests prevail, these negative impacts will expand to 3,000 square impacts with the amount of unneeded power increasing from about 20 to 50%. Compounding these unnecessary losses, additional charges to meet the long-term, high interest utility debt on the unneeded plants will cause our electricity costs to more than double over time.

FOOTNOTES

The 162 Megawatt (MW) Glacier Hills Wind power plant is Wisconsin’s largest. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Wisconsin Only the 801 Megawatt (MW) Meadow Lake power plant near Chalmers, Indiana would be larger in Midwest states. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wind_farms_in_the_United_States

2 Pattern LLC financials: https://investors.patternenergy.com/financial-information See also: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pattern-energy-enters-agreement-to-be-acquired-by-canada-pension-plan-investment-board-300950682.html

3 According to Pattern’s filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2020, the Uplands wind system would be 600 Megawatts (MW). https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005 The estimated minimum number of turbines was determined by dividing this number by 3.5 MW assumed to be the size of the largest, modern turbines. (600 MW / 3.5 MW = 171.4 turbines)

4 See map of the Uplands project area, above, and as inserted into a highlands area view scape map at p.4 of https://bit.ly/Uplands-editorial Pattern LLC has not yet publicized turbine height information. October 2018 materials distributed to prospective property participants near Montfort, WI concerning the Red Barn wind power plant, specify turbine heights ranging from 459 to 656 feet. Viewed from highland positions, objects that are 650 feet high can be seen for 38.7 miles, line of sight. https://planetcalc.com/1198/ Nocturnal visibility from highland locations would extend more than 30 miles based on lights mounted at a rotor hight of 410’. For reference, the smaller, 2 MW wind turbines at Quilt Block in the Town on Seymour in Lafayette County can easily be seen from Montfort, Wisconsin, 24 miles away.

5 The measurement of 250 square miles is an approximation based on Pattern’s Uplands study area map in the company’s August, 2020 presentation to the Iowa County Planning & Zoning Committee. A larger view of the blue outlined area is embedded in the middle image on page 5 at http://bit.ly/UplandsPowerpointForIACo202008

6 FERC’s publication is accessible at https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005

7 FERC’s publication indicates the Pattern LLC reported to have signed about 15,000 acres of property under “site control” of the 30,000 acres required by regional transmission owners under the auspices of MISO. https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005 According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, the size of the average farm in Wisconsin is 221 acres.  https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Publications/WIAgStatistics.aspx Dividing the remaining 15,000 acres into 221 acre sized parcels suggests an average of 67.8 agricultural property owners would be involved. The estimation of 50 assumes the company will focus on property owners with larger parcels for greater siting flexibilities and fewer affected neighbors.

8 Video interview by Zach Boyden-Holmes with Mason Fleenor (Ida Grove, IA) from Des Moines Register article, “Is wind power saving rural Iowa or wrecking it?” by Donnelle Eller, and Kevin Hardy, April 20, 2017 http://bit.ly/WindWreckingIowa_DesMoinesRegister

9 See comparison of utility-funded and independent studies of wind turbine impacts on property values collected by McCann: http://bit.ly/WindTurbinePropertyValueImpactKielischMcCann Utility studies pose there are modest negative impact on values while those conducted by independent evaluators show very significant range of losses from 15-45% with an average of 29%.

10 See summary table “Tab 2,” on spreadsheet https://bit.ly/Uplands-StateTaxPayment_v_PropertyDevaluation

11 See Tab 1 – Adjusted Lease Income With Property Devaluation table at spreadsheet with calculations at: https://bit.ly/Uplands-StateTaxPayment_v_PropertyDevaluation

12 “Section 2.2 Wind Energy Conversion Systems . . . The exact location of such wind energy conversion systems shall be determined by the Developer in its sole discretion. . . ” and discretionary location rights in Section 2.3 Transmission Facilities and Roads with 80’ easement strips for electrical lines and up to 20’ widths for access roads. The contract also enables the Developer to add transformers, battery storage facilities and relocate equipment at sole discretion.

13 For Wisconsin landowner testimonials, see collection of video interviews at https://bit.ly/WI_Wind_Interviews

14 PSC Code PSC 128.14(3) https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/document/administrativecode/PSC%20128.14(3) Dr. Robert Rand discusses the sub-sonic phenomena starting at 1 hour, 27 minutes into this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=2kvoZO-DEho&feature=youtu.be

15 See Elizabeth Eberts interview at 1:54 https://bit.ly/WI_Wind_Interviews

16 Assumes nocturnal, rural background ambience of 25 dBA and daytime ambience of 30 dBA. 10 dBA is assumed as perceived doubled loudness. https://www.quora.com/How-many-dB-decibels-represent-a-doubling-or-halving-of-the-sound-volume?share=1

17 Wisconsin Wind Turbines Declared Health Hazard First of its kind ruling; similar to Michigan situation, By Jack Spencer, November 8, 2014, Michigan Capitol Confidential https://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/20690

18 See Shadow flicker limits. PSC 128.15(2)(2) https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/document/administrativecode/PSC%20128.15(2)

19 See Table, Wisconsin Power Plants Excess Capability, pdf p. 5, https://bit.ly/Uplands-editorial Data in the table compiled from announced new power plants and retirements in Wisconsin Public Service Commission 2020-2026 Strategic Energy Assessment https://apps.psc.wi.gov/ERF/ERFview/viewdoc.aspx?docid=390854 , new plants sought in the MISO Interconnection Queue https://www.misoenergy.org/planning/generator-interconnection/GI_Queue/gi-interactive-queue/ US Department of Energy (EIA) Form 861 and SEDS records for WI, US census and inflation data.

20 From Uplands Wind FAQ, “How does wind energy affect the cost of energy? The cost of electricity from wind energy is predictable and stable because there are no fuel costs, unlike conventional forms of energy where the cost of fuel can fluctuate significantly over time. Once a wind farm project is built, the price of electricity from the project is set for the duration of its power purchase agreement.” https://uplandswind.com/faq/

21 See itemized estimated, comprehensive expenses rows 32-46 of spreadsheet, https://bit.ly/CompareEndUserAlternative

22 See table, Uplands 600 MW Wind System vs. Accelerated FOE Incentive, pdf p. 5 https://bit.ly/Uplands-editorial and associated spreadsheet, https://bit.ly/CompareEndUserAlternative

23 See calculations on spreadsheet, https://bit.ly/CompareEndUserAlternative

24 Energy and CO2 reduction benefits sourced from Focus on Energy Calendar Year 2016 Evaluation Report Volume I May 19, 2017 https://www.focusonenergy.com/sites/default/files/Evaluation%20Report%20-%202016%20Volume%20I.pdf and correspondence with EPA staff regarding use of the AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT).

25 From pdf p. 2 FERC November, 2020 communication, “Pattern Energy Wind states that, on June 22, 2020, it submitted two generator interconnection requests to MISO to interconnect the Project via two queue positions: (1) an interconnection to American Transmission Company’s Hill Valley to Cardinal 345 kV line; and (2) an interconnection to the Hill Valley 345 kV substation.” https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005 Note: The Hill Valley substation near Montfort does not exist today. It is a central component of the Cardinal Hickory Creek 345 kV transmission line.

26 Dane, Iowa counties challenge power line approval, says regulators abused discretion, by Chris Hubbuch, Wisconsin State Journal Dec 13, 2019, https://madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/dane-iowa-counties-challenge-power-line-approval-says-regulators-abused/article_d8c2abb0-c86c-51c7-97fe-44d3bd94b426.html

27 See FERC discussion of extension including time for MISO transmission owners to complete site control review, pdf p.7,8, https://bit.ly/FERC-ER21-30-000-20201005

28 Iowa County Draft Updated Wind Ordinance starting on pdf. p. 68 https://evogov.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/meetings/107/attachments/9206.pdf Contact information for Iowa and Lafayette County Wind Ordnance matters: Iowa Co. Supervisor Districts, map: https://www.iowacounty.org/media/Districts.pdf Iowa Co. Supervisors contacts: https://www.iowacounty.org/departments/countyboard/county-board-members Iowa County Planning & Development 222 N. Iowa St. Dodgeville, WI 53533 608-935-0398; Lafayette County Planning and Zoning Committee: 626 Main Street, Darlington, WI 53530, 608-776-3836 Lafayette Co. Map of Supervisor Districts: http://lafay.maps.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/content/items/2c8f689496e3499aaea639ffd2fac00d/data Lafayette County Supervisor contacts: https://www.lafayettecountywi.org/bos

29 Pattern LLC is considered a non-public utility or “merchant” developer. Proposals by merchant power plant developers do not have to prove need to meet power inadequacies or evaluate alternatives such as electric customer investment in home and local energy improvements. State laws also allow merchant power plant developers to take their proposals directly to the PSC for review and approval after obtaining 75% of the necessary land or “site control,” “Option Agreements” with landowners. For more on MISO site control policy, see .pdf p. 20, 21, Generation Interconnection Business Practices Manual BPM-015-r21 Effective Date: OCT-16-2019 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UzsdEJQqiky-6rxIxIXTfbEtDjF0WKm4/view?usp=sharingThis entry was posted in Uncategorized on  by Rob DanielsonEdit