'Highland Wind' group drops $25 million claim against town of Forest
The development group that wants to erect 41 wind turbines in the towns of Forest and Cylon announced Tuesday that they've dropped their $25 million claim against town officials on the basis "we owe it to the greater good to work together, figure this out and deliver the economic, social and environmental benefits that this project offers," said Highland Wind Project spokesman Jay Mundinger.
"This project too important to the economic vitality of the region and Wisconsin's commitment to developing "green" energy for the future," Mundinger continued.
Township and Highland project representatives have been discussing the proposed project for about four years but after voters removed the entire town board in a recall election and the new board moved to rescind the previous wind farm agreements, claiming that previous meetings related to the Highland Wind Project were improperly noticed and failed to meet state laws guidelines for open meetings, Emerging Energies LLC filed a $25 million claim against the town for backing out of agreements and permits.
Emerging Energies subsequently revisited its plan and upsized the proposal, prompting oversight for the project to move from local governance to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
Last week, Emerging Energies received correspondence from the PSC that its application needs further details before the commission will take it under consideration. The PSC asked for clarification or additional information on 60 different items.
Mundinger told the New Richmond News the company is working to answer the questions and file the completed 1,800-page application within the next month.
"We are on track and I believe we'll have a resubmittal," he said.
Jamie Junker, current Forest town chairman, told the News if Emerging Energies would follow the town's recently adopted rules, there would be no reason for local residents to object to the plans. He did admit, however, that following the township rules would require a significant change in the Highland Wind Project's plans.
Junker said he wouldn't comment at length about the project, but referred to the town board's continuing efforts to protect the community from development that would change the face of Forest forever.
"It's a big issue," he said. "Clearly most of the residents of the town aren't happy with the project."
Junker said the wind licensing ordinance that the board adopted would provide the protection and safeguards that most people want, like regulations on turbine setbacks, noise levels and "shadow flicker."
The PSC will invite public comment on the project once it deems the application complete.
The application has been posted to the PSC's website: psc.wi.gov. The HWF docket number: 2535-CE-100.
The Highland group also launched a new web site -- www.highlandwindpower.com-- which carries more information about the project.