Beloit gearing up for wind farm

BELOIT TOWNSHIP, WISCONSIN - Beloit Township might not be the best place in the county for a wind farm.

But you never know. The town plan commission is discussing a draft ordinance regulating placement of wind towers. No one has proposed turbines in the township, but it wants to stay ahead of the game, said Supervisor Dave Townsend, who suggested the ordinance.

"My goal is to be proactive in heading off any potential large wind farm developments that might adversely affect neighbors," he said. "I support alternative energy, obviously. But I think they have to be carefully regulated as to where they're going to be."

Townsend has been following the news in the towns of Magnolia and Union, where Madison-based EcoEnergy is testing wind speeds in preparation for siting wind turbines.

EcoEnergy wants to build 67 turbines in Magnolia and three in Union. Both towns have put a moratorium on wind farm applications and are studying sample ordinances. EcoEnergy also is monitoring wind speeds on ridges between La Prairie and Bradford townships.

Beloit doesn't have the elevation the other towns have. But it does have a lot of high voltage transmission lines serving its two power plants and the Paddock Substation, which is an electrical portal to Illinois.

Wind developers look for windy places near transmission lines, said Wes Slaymaker, vice president of wind development for EcoEnergy.

"We have a lot of power and transmission facilities," Townsend said. "I would think that would indicate that we might get a wind farm someday in Beloit Township." Some of the restrictions in the town of Beloit's working draft include:

- Towers may not be located on platted land.

- Towers must be 3 miles away from the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, 1 mile away from the Rock River and at least 600 feet from a protected wetland.

- Towers must be at least a quarter mile from a subdivision.

- Wind power generation would be a conditional use in an agricultural zone and would require a permit.


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