For years, investment in wind power has been hobbled at the national level by the unpredictable extensions of federal renewable energy tax credits. On the local level, wind power in at least one state has been hobbled by unpredictable policies of a different nature.

In a quest to make their state a bigger draw for wind power developers, Wisconsin lawmakers have passed legislation to pave the way for new standards regarding the siting of new wind farms.

On Oct. 1, 2009, Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law Senate Bill 185. The bill requires the state’s public service commission (PSC) to establish uniform standards regulating the construction and operation of wind-energy systems. It allows proposed wind-energy systems that are 1 megawatt or larger to appeal decisions by local authorities with the PSC.

While opponents of the legislation object to what they see as a loss of local control over the placement of new wind farms, proponents argue the legislation was necessary to bring uniformity and consistency to the process, in contrast to the existing patchwork of local regulations that acts as a disincentive to investors and developers. They say the new standards will entice more developments and help increase the state’s production of wind power.

Doyle praised the legislation for implementing some of the integral recommendations of his task force on global warming, which he convened to examine the effects and solutions to global warming in the state. Membership consisted of key business, industry, government, energy and environmental leaders. The task force was charged with creating a state plan of action to deliver to the governor to reduce Wisconsin’s contribution to global warming. Using current national and local research, it analyzed possible solutions to global warming challenges that pose a threat to Wisconsin’s economic and environmental health.