Energy Law Wisconsin Blog

ELW in the Community: Support for UW-Madison Urban & Regional Planning Course

On October 21, I spoke as part of a panel and worked with the graduate students in the 2011 Planning Workshop in the UW-Madison Department of Urban and Regional Planning. In this course, which is part of the master’s program and financed by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Grant, the students are hard at work developing a regional energy plan examining renewable energy opportunities in nine counties in Southwest Wisconsin.

I spoke as part of a panel that included presentations from Sara Walling, Bioenergy Advisor for the Office of the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Gregory Nemet, Professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs and Bill Johnson, a bioenergy consultant and former Manager of Biofuel Development for Alliant Energy.

I addressed legal issues involved in the planning process, from the perspective of counsel to developers and utilities involved in establishing renewable energy facilities.  I also drew on my past experience as a city attorney and as counsel for municipalities and local landowners in communities where large-sized renewable energy projects were being developed.

I addressed the differing interests of stakeholders (developers, utilities, municipalities, host land owners and neighbors) that must be taken into account when developing rural energy facilities. The challenge for municipalities is to balance the interests of these stakeholders fairly in making their planning and zoning decisions.  An approach that goes too far to protecting the rights of non-hosting land owners, risks discouraging economic development and depriving potential facility hosts from fully developing the potential of their property. On the other hand, a regulatory approach that is too lax risks subjecting the community to environmental harm or placing unwarranted costs on the community and land owners, when such costs should fairly be borne by the developer or others who will be directly benefiting from the project.

A copy of the slides from the presentation is available here:

Presentation Outline

Written on October 27, 2011 at 11:48 am, by Michael Allen