Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC)
Submitted: 3/3/2023 9:14:04 PM
Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity of High Noon Solar Energy LLC to Construct a Solar Electric Generation Facility in the Town of Leeds, Town of Lowville, Town of Arlington, and Town of Hampden, Columbia County, Wisconsin
Public Comment Open Period:
01/31/2023 - 03/03/2023
Commentor Information:
Name: Chad and Rebecca Volkmann
Address: W5530 Cole Road
City: Poynette   State:WI   Zip:53955
Dear PSC and Wisconsin stakeholders of the High Noon Project,

As landowners and homeowners of property impacted by the High Noon Project, we are requesting the PSC deny the request for this project and consider other locations for alternative energy. We moved to this location 2 years ago because of the county's commitment to agricultural land preservation and maximizing the use of prime agricultural land, as stated in the Columbia County Comprehensive Plan 2023. As professionals with experience in the food science and agricultural industries, we are most deeply concerned why our state would allow utilities and/or private, for-profit energy companies access to convert what has been graded as prime agricultural land. To be clear, we agree with alternative energy sources and as a state we need to look at innovative solutions, however we believe it`s very important to be intentional and strategic about that innovation...we shouldn`t exchange one of our state's greatest assets (prime agriculture land) - there are other options and locations for alternative energy solutions.
We`ve been to conferences, served on prestigious state university, professional and environmental boards where the focus has been to preserve, build upon and innovate Wisconsin`s agricultural economic, environmental and social impact - the topics to achieve this has been in the hundreds and not a single time has solar been one of the strategic ideas. In fact, it`s never even been brought to the table by some of the brightest and world-renowned scientist, professionals or academic scholars we`ve interacted with. Wisconsin`s investment and commitment to sustainable agriculture, food supply, health and human well-being has local, state and global impact today, tomorrow and for generations to come! Let`s not lose sight of Wisconsin`s long-term opportunities to out of state salespeople and international for-profit companies who have alternative motives to what we work so hard for in Wisconsin`s agricultural communities.

Additional reasons the specific location of the High Noon Project should be denied by the PSC include:
Our family takes great pride in caring for and being responsible stewards of the land. Per the PSC Environmental Assessment dated Nov 2022, "The NHI database contains known records for endangered resources. However, most areas of the state have not been surveyed extensively or recently, so the NHI data should not be solely relied upon, particularly in areas dominated by private lands." We are blessed with land near Mud Lake, The Mackenzie Center and The Audubon Society properties. Our family carries these same environmental, land management, habitat restoration/maintenance and wildlife preservation efforts in the care for our land as well, thus are concerned with the environmental impact of this project's location.
We, along with neighboring properties (neighbors who are signed up to participate in the High Noon Project), have the north branch of the Crawfish River running through our property. This is a protected water source and as such we believe it`s our responsibility to be aware of the environmental impact of a solar project, battery leakage, fire hazard and heat storage on not only the river itself, but also the wildlife, bird species, herptile and amphibian population as per the PSC Environmental Assessment dated Nov 2022, "While many of these endangered resources would not be impacted, a total of seven species may be impacted if actions are not put into place to prevent or minimize these impacts. They include:
· Three state endangered and two special concern bird species
· One state endangered and one special concern herptile species"
Additionally, we have bald eagles on our and neighboring properties often. Bald eagles are still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Act. This species and other migratory bird population impact should also be considered a core reason for denying this project.
Again, we understand the value of diversifying our energy sources in Wisconsin, but we cannot understand why we would consider these particular parcels of land, given the asset they serve to the state of Wisconsin and Columbia County. Given our states investment of agriculture, responsible wildlife management, please allow us to continue being good stewards of our state greatest land and wildlife assets by denying the High Noon Project.
Thank you,
Chad & Rebecca Volkmann

I affirm that these comments are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.

NOTE: This comment is submitted in lieu of testimony pursuant to a Notice of Hearing issued by the Commission in this docket. I affirm that these comments consist of my personal knowledge or opinion only, and that I have not included information prepared by another person, and that I have not previously submitted written public comments in this docket in response to this Notice of Hearing.

Chad and Rebecca Volkmann