Thursday, August 13, 2009

Great Lakes Wind Power, Water Withdrawals And Rule-Making

Michigan wants to beat Ohio and become the first state to tap Great Lakes winds for energy production.

Wisconsin is muddling through the possibility with research into state legislation and rule-making. To date, utilities and regulators have been content with buying power or wind farms in Minnesota for Wisconsin uses.

Good idea, but using towers on the lakebed has not been a top priority.

Too passive, in my opinion.

Which reminds me: as Waukesha forges ahead with its Lake Michigan diversion application drafting, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, by omission, shows no inclination to write administrative rules laying out what constitutes an accurate, comprehensive and forward-looking application.

This may help Waukesha convince the DNR its diversion application is accurate, comprehensive and forward-looking, but as I have said often on this blog - - and it's just an opinion - - that willingness to skip rule-making by the DNR will suggest to the other seven Great Lakes states that Wisconsin is not a full partner in the mandatory, eight-state review and approval that a Waukesha-level application requires.

Waukesha also shows no interest in urging the DNR to get busy with rule-making, so if and when Waukesha's application is turned down or aside by one of more of the other states, the city will have no one else to blame but itself, its elected officials, advisers and consultants.

1 comment:

Michael Vickerman said...


Re your article, about a month ago I wrote an commentary on the RENEW Wisconsin blog decrying the growing tendency in Wisconsin to outsource renewable energy installations to other states. The commentary was occasioned by PSC approval of a Wisconsin Power & Light application to build its next 200 MW of windpower in southern Minnesota. Several WI utilities have given up locating wind projects in Wisconsin, due to a combination of dealing with opposition groups (who are every bit as disruptive as the town hall meeting protestors on national TV) and the ready willingness of Iowa and Minnesota to host wind projects serving WI utilities. Windpower in Iowa and Minnesota is less expensive than it is here. The stimulative value of RE is localized in the host community, not where the RE credits are sold.

The link to my July 2009 commentary is below. An excerpt of the article also appears below.

Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
RENEW Wisconsin

... If Wisconsin truly desires to provide a home to a viable renewable energy economy, it will have to redefine the public interest standards that govern the expenditure of ratepayer dollars. This means giving such economic benefits as job creation, component manufacturing, workforce participation, increased tax receipts to local and state government, and reduced dependence on future transmission upgrades as much due consideration as cost per megawatt-hour. Granted, this is a form of industrial policy. However, if state policymakers don’t take steps to build a solid market structure for generating more renewable electricity here at home, Wisconsin’s ability to compete for good jobs and business opportunities could become hopelessly compromised....