The elected officials representing the northern portion of a proposed large-scale offshore wind development continue to say "no" to the plan. ...Many public forums were held since December in Oceana, Muskegon, Mason and Ottawa counties, and many people made passionate pleas, some for and more against, concerning the proposal.
Oceana County commissioners Thursday afternoon rejected the request by a private offshore wind turbine developer to move forward with extensive studies for a proposed installation off the Lake Michigan shoreline of Pentwater.
On a 4-2 vote, the commissioners ended months of debate in Oceana County, including strong opposition from the Pentwater area.
Nearly 16 months after the Oceana County Board of Commissioners rejected further action on a proposal for an industrial-scale wind farm on the waters of Lake Michigan, the county's planning commission released a report Tuesday that says the plan was "not feasible."
"The Oceana County Planning Commission does not endorse Scandia offshore studies or the proposed wind development off the northern Oceana County Lake Michigan coast," according to a resolution presented by Planning Commissioner Larry Byl, who is also on the county board. An offshore wind farm would be detrimental to recreational use of the lake, planners argued.
In a hot, overflowing middle school auditorium Wednesday, the Lake Michigan offshore wind debate turned ugly.
Many of the more than 600 people who packed an Oceana County public information meeting on the Scandia Wind Offshore proposal for a wind farm 4 miles off Pentwater's shoreline shouted one of their own off the stage.
Many people have questions about proposals to build wind farms in Lake Michigan off the shore of Mason and Oceana counties, including Oceana County Planning Commission member David Roseman. Roseman drafted a list of 28 questions for the proposal's developers, which the commission asked them to answer in writing. The planning commission is now waiting for the answers before making a recommendation.
How is the proposed wind farm for Oceana County coming along? “It’s kind of on hold,” said Richard Vanderveen, president of Mackinaw Power. Vanderveen said his company has been “working like crazy the last four years to get the sites, the interconnects, get the wind studies …” and with those in hand, he’s waiting for Michigan to become the 25th state to approve an RPS, or Renewable Portfolio Standard. The move would ease some of the zoning issues that proposed wind farms are facing.
Without a proper connection, wind energy in Michigan may be a moot point.
That was the sobering message given Tuesday by the head of the state's electrical transmission company during the opening session of the 2010 Michigan Wind Energy Conference in Detroit's Cobo Hall. ...[ITC Holdings Inc. President and CEO Joe] Welch cautioned wind industry proponents that getting new high-voltage transmission lines sited, financed, permitted and constructed can take years.
Sanilac County officials are part of an ad hoc group of municipal leaders from across Michigan's Thumb that is urging the state to go slow on legislation calling for offshore wind turbines in Lake Huron.
"We were not familiar with or notified of the bill," said Carl Osentoski of Ubly, who launched the Thumb Regional Energy Collaborative Group in summer 2010.
TUSTIN - Everything comes at a price.
Nearly 50 township and county officials and landowners gathered in Tustin Wednesday to learn how jurisdictions could evaluate what the trade-offs are in bringing wind energy production to their communities.
"Nothing we do for energy comes without a cost," said Mike Klepinger, Land Use Specialist for Michigan State University Extension. "We have to decide what kind of cost we are willing to pay."
O'Shea, along with officials and planners from jurisdictions throughout northern Michigan, took part in a local seminar last week about how local governments can draft zoning ordinances tailored for small and large wind projects. The presentation was organized by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments.
Michael Klepinger, extension specialist with Michigan State University, said most jurisdictions in Michigan lack zoning ordinances that specifically address wind power.
Wind companies pay personal property taxes for wind developments, and the taxable values are established by the Michigan Tax Commission. Those values decrease each year because of depreciation. And, per an October ruling, there will be a larger than previously established drop in values this year.
Local governments are working under a tight deadline to develop a plan to substantiate what they believe are true taxable values for wind turbine developments. At the same time, they are throwing their support behind a special tax State Rep. Kurt E. Damrow has proposed for wind energy developments.
In an interview Wednesday, Huron County Commissioner Kurt Damrow said Monday's public hearing is the last chance for local units of government, including townships that have control of their zoning and have a wind turbine ordinance, to speak to the State of Michigan in regard to maintaining local control over setback requirements and noise limitations for wind developments.
"What's on the line is whether local units of government will have a say in zoning, specifically (regarding) setbacks and noise," Damrow said.
While the Huron County Wind Energy Subcommittee had expressed hope a state university would take the lead on a comprehensive heath study on the effects of wind turbine noise, it learned last week it's unlikely.
Before last week's meeting, several subcommittee members met with Dr. Alfred Franzblau, University of Michigan Environmental Health Sciences professor, via teleconference to discuss the possibility of a noise study.
The company planning a wind farm in Lake Michigan off Pentwater appears to be developing a much broader plan as Scandia Offshore Wind has a series of three meetings scheduled Monday in Muskegon.
It is likely the Norwegian wind developers will suggest additional offshore wind farm locations for Lake Michigan waters in the Muskegon area. Yet, Scandia's interests in West Michigan also appear to be greater than wind farms on Lake Michigan.
When offshore wind farms have been discussed along the lakeshore, the debate has centered on how the turbines would look and whether they would kill birds.
Testimony was taken on comprehensive offshore wind turbine legislation, which seems destined to remain in committee as the Michigan Legislature ends its term this week.
The GVSU wind study points out some of the advantages of offshore wind versus more traditional onshore wind farms. The offshore advantages include more consistent and stronger winds, the proximity to large cities and energy customers, the ability to build larger wind turbines and locations that are away from residential areas.
But offshore wind has major public acceptance issues, is more expensive to build and maintain and can negatively affect people's connection to the Great Lakes.
Norwegian developers are in the process of cutting their proposed Lake Michigan Aegir Offshore Wind Farm in half and moving it further from the Silver Lake State Park shoreline.
Officials from Scandia Wind Offshore LLC say they are reacting to overwhelming negative reaction to the location of their original plan for a 1,000-megawatt, $3 billion wind farm.
Oceana County commissioners agreed Thursday to send the request from an offshore wind development group on to the county's planning commission for its input.
Despite pressure from opponents of the proposed offshore wind farm to end the plan, commissioners decided to refer the memo from Scandia Wind to the planners for review, study and a recommendation.