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Updated wind rules

Committee approves zoning code changes

The Marathon County Environmental Resources Committee on Thursday approved updated wind energy zoning regulations in advance of a $150 million EDP Renewables wind farm project scheduled for the towns of Holton and Brighton in 2021.

The new regulations, drafted over the last several months by corporation counsel Scott Corbett, bring county regulations in sync with state law.

Under state statutes, a county can have weaker, but not more restrictive wind energy regulations than the state.

The regulations require any company wishing to install a wind farm describe the project, including detail on the wind turbines to be used, how the system will impact land use up to onemile of the project, how many roads will be built to service the farm and a plan to decommission the wind turbines at the end of their useful life.

The zoning code says that the county can charge “reasonable” fees for staff reviewing a wind farm application and expect “financial assurances” that the company will either scrap or retrofit turbines when they are no longer usable, predictably at the end of 20 or 30 years, or following a weather disaster.

Two EDP Renewables spokespersons, Nathan Wiles and Rorik Peterson, told supervisors they “really appreciate” the county’s effort to update a wind energy zoning code.

They had no complaints with the proposed ordinance.

The company representatives said their company plans to lease 11,000 farm acres across Holton and Brighton for the 23-turbine wind farm. They said the turbines would measure 300 feet tall.