General and Michigan
If you're wondering how in the world this project could be economically viable for anybody involved - and the partners are the city of Ann Arbor; Ann Arbor Public Schools; and Wind Products, the company that estimated the output - it's all about the subsidy. The U.S. Department of Energy is ready to pony up $951,000 in taxpayer money for the $1.44 million project.
In Michigan's Lenawee County and near the Ohio-Indiana state line, proposals to install wind turbines are attracting organized opposition. It is easy -- but unfair -- to dismiss this as an expression of classic Not In My Back Yard sentiments. If majority opinion and market forces lead to zoning ordinances that discourage developers from operating in an area, they must be respected.
The IICC has exhaustively studied the issues surrounding industrial wind turbines, advocating for regulations that will protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Lenawee County. Wind developers have advocated for regulations that protect their profits and shareholders. Does the IICC tell a scary story? Yes it does, because sometimes the truth is scary.
Because wind energy advocates have done a terrific job selling industrial wind as an abundant source of "clean" energy, many environmentally sensitive people support it. But proponents have produced no factual data to substantiate their claim, because it doesn't exist.
Unfortunately, while the price tag and impact are a lot less than the biomass plant, so is the expected return.
While the city-owned utility had hoped to build two or even three biomass plants and produce as much as 20 percent of the base load power the utility needs, the impact of solar will be much, much less.
[The report] skips over the setback requirements for the industrial turbines, an issue that has been a major point of contention. Those 450 foot industrial turbines have to be 1,400 feet from your house, but only 600 feet from your property line. That means this could lead to up to 800 feet of your property being unusable and unsafe for you, essentially being stolen.
Tri-Cities residents were treated to a slick presentation by Scandia Wind LLC wind farm developers at the Grand Haven High School Performing Arts Center Tuesday night. Developers implored area residents to make decisions based on "facts, not fear." Trouble is, Scandia's presentation was infested with non-facts.
More than any other state, Michiganders identify with the Great Lakes. They are essential to the state's tourism industry and provide extensive recreational opportunities ...It seems hard to believe that anyone would want to put the Great Lakes at risk for the unproven development of off-shore wind energy.
Having learned nothing from Cape Wind's tortuous nine-year battle to locate a wind farm off Cape Cod, the state of Michigan is encouraging wind farms in the Great Lakes. ...But silly pols who insist Michigan factories can be run on wind are about to plunge its lakeshore residents into a bitter and prolonged public battle.
Many people seem enthralled about the “clean green” wind farm proposed for Lake Michigan four miles out from Pentwater.
But if you’ve ever sailed the lake and if you ever worked in a big power plant — and I have done both — you see several dirty little devils in the details. Plus that, an Internet search shows wind power may not be all that clean. But it certainly looks very, very green — at least to the developers, people eager to rake in the boodle of big federal grants and subsidies and then get out of Dodge — or Pentwater.
In the words of Jeff Holyfield, spokesperson for Consumers Energy, "Last year, the wind blew ice floes onshore with such force that a half-dozen homes were crushed on the shore of Lake Michigan ... protection of turbine towers from such pressure and stress is a major concern."
So much is invested in Michigan to save the shoreline, protect Lake Michigan, keeping the invasive carp out of our waters and to keep the quality of Michigan's natural resources protected, why all of the sudden would our state do a 180% turn? The Scandia Wind Offshore, LLC is talking about putting these wind turbines in some that stretch 450 feet as close as two miles off from the shoreline in Pentwater.
So far, more than a dozen families near our existing wind turbines have complained. That's with only about 75 turbines in the area. What will happen when we have 2,800 of them here?
If we don't speak up now, we'll have more than 400 families reporting health problems - just because the turbines are constructed too close to homes.
One thing everyone in Merritt Township seems to agree on is that it sure is windy on the flat, former lake bottom that is Bay County.
Add the prospect of 66 giant, electricity-generating windmills to the argument, as they were proposed last week by a Florida energy company, and consensus starts to fracture. ...Warranted or not, a great deal of suspicion shrouds windmill developments. Some residents near "wind farms" in the Thumb region have complained of noise and vibration from the turbines. And for every specific complaint, there is another resident to rebut the claim, saying the units are unobtrusive.
While debate stemming from a recent Michigan Wind Energy Resource Zone Board meeting in Bad Axe has mostly been about whether future wind turbine development should be allowed in the local area, there have been other concerns raised that should be acknowledged. They are in regard to the board's actual makeup: That there's too much representation from the utility and transmission industries, and not enough representation from other entities, including counties, public health, agriculture and the Thumb region.
Wind farms will have a niche role in generating electricity for Michigan. But their role should not be mandated by legislation.
The economics of wind power will determine if it is viable and cost effective. Mandating or subsidizing a marginal player in the power industry will, in the long run, be costly.
Wind power's chief drawback is obvious: The wind doesn't blow constantly. ...Renewable energy has grown in recent years. And will continue to have a place producing electrical power. But the growth should be at a pace dictated by the economics of production, not by government fiat.
Besides the environmental advantages of an RPS, many states are finding an economic incentive. Texas has huge potential for wind energy and business interests there are pushing for it, but other states find the turbines unsightly. ...expensive and disputes the job-creation assertion.
"Proponents of wind energy claim that mandating renewable energy will lead to job creation," Doug Roberts, Jr., the chamber's director of environmental and energy policy, told members of the House Committee on Energy and Technology. "However, proponents usually can't back up these claims with facts.
"For a quick comparison, for under half the cost of a 10 percent renewable mandate, Michigan could build a new nuclear plant (cost $2 billion to $3 billion)," Roberts added. "A new nuclear plant would provide 1,200 megawatts of reliable energy and would create 1,800 temporary construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs.
Jennifer Granholm ought to know better. ...she should understand the folly of forcing technologically impossible demands on an industry. But there she was last week, pitching a proposal that Michigan utilities get 25 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2025. ...Even if it were technologically and economically feasible to replace 25 percent of Michigan's energy with wind power, it's not politically possible.
Replacing just one 1,000-megawatt coal plant would require 1,500 windmills. Meeting 25 percent of the state's estimated 2025 electricity demand would take 6,800 windmills, built at a cost of $30 billion.
And each one would need 100 acres, so that's 680,000 acres of prime lakeshore land covered with giant turbines.
It's not going to happen.
Wind turbines for the most part are symbolic gestures that would have us believe we are doing something good for our environment when in reality we are doing very little.
We applaud any effort to offer incentives to increase the use of renewable and alternative energy sources to power Michigan.
But we hope the 25-percent goal can be reached by offering incentives, not by issuing mandates. The cheapest source of energy in the United States is coal. For the time being, at least, renewable sources of energy are a more expensive alternative. It would not bode well for economic development in Michigan if the state had astronomical energy costs.