Article

Lake Michigan wind farm a tough sell

About 180 people packed a West Shore Community College building Tuesday night to learn about plans to turn 100 square miles of nearby Lake Michigan into a wind energy farm. Many did not like what they heard and saw, when the company revealed photos of area beaches showing simulated 300-foot-tall wind turbines towering above the waters about two to four miles from shore.

VICTORY TWP. — About 180 people packed a West Shore Community College building Tuesday night to learn about plans to turn 100 square miles of nearby Lake Michigan into a wind energy farm.

Many did not like what they heard and saw, when the company revealed photos of area beaches showing simulated 300-foot-tall wind turbines towering above the waters about two to four miles from shore, including Mary Stiphany of Pentwater, who said she brought 20 e-mails to the meeting to represent 300 people who oppose the plan.

“That’s how we feel in Pentwater. They will do anything to stop it and will continue fighting it until it goes away,” Stiphany said.

Most of the comments and questions from the crowd during Tuesday’s three-hour meeting were against the proposal, although many in the crowd said “no” when someone tried to say everybody showed up to oppose the wind farm idea.

“It’s cleaner than coal,” Ren Willis-Frances said about the idea of using wind energy to replace coal-burning power plants. “It’s not just the burning, (wind power) gets us away from all the mining and carrying it.

“It’s not without its impacts, but the impacts are less,” Willis-Frances said in comparing... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

VICTORY TWP. — About 180 people packed a West Shore Community College building Tuesday night to learn about plans to turn 100 square miles of nearby Lake Michigan into a wind energy farm.
 
Many did not like what they heard and saw, when the company revealed photos of area beaches showing simulated 300-foot-tall wind turbines towering above the waters about two to four miles from shore, including Mary Stiphany of Pentwater, who said she brought 20 e-mails to the meeting to represent 300 people who oppose the plan.

“That’s how we feel in Pentwater. They will do anything to stop it and will continue fighting it until it goes away,” Stiphany said.

Most of the comments and questions from the crowd during Tuesday’s three-hour meeting were against the proposal, although many in the crowd said “no” when someone tried to say everybody showed up to oppose the wind farm idea.

“It’s cleaner than coal,” Ren Willis-Frances said about the idea of using wind energy to replace coal-burning power plants. “It’s not just the burning, (wind power) gets us away from all the mining and carrying it.

“It’s not without its impacts, but the impacts are less,” Willis-Frances said in comparing wind energy with burning coal.

Most of Tuesday’s opposition came from people who do not want to see huge wind turbines rising about 300 feet over the Lake Michigan waves from southern Mason County to the Silver Lake State Park in Oceana County.

Several people in Tuesday’s crowd thanked Dirdal for providing the photos that show how local lake views would look if the wind towers were built.

Plans

“There is always a balance between the good sides of a project and the bad sides of a project,” Dirdal told Tuesday’s crowd while using his hands to simulate the sides of a scale.

Their plans call for construction of 100 to 200 wind turbines on the lake bottom that would stand about 300 feet over Lake Michigan’s waves. They would produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity and cover an area developers say would come within 3.7 miles of land on the northern edge, near the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant, and within about two miles of shore near the southern edge, near Silver Lake State Park.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have joint jurisdiction over granting permits for offshore projects and they have not yet developed criteria for use in reviewing applications for offshore wind energy facilities. That means it may take time for them to create the criteria and have it approved by the state and federal government before the DEQ and Corps can even begin to consider looking at a proposal.

Seeking support

Harald Dirdal, a project manager with Havgul Clean Energy, and Steve Warner, CEO of Scandia Wind, are seeking local support for the project before applying for permits necessary for construction.

Warner has said implementation of the proposal may take five to 10 years and involve spending about $3 billion. He said it may be built in stages of 200 megawatts at a time. He has also said the site they chose is good because it is close to electric transmission lines flowing to and from the pumped storage plant, in an area of the lake that is not too deep and is near areas that require large amounts of electricity, such as Chicago and Milwaukee.

Warner has also said an arrangement may be made that would provide compensation to the local governments through fixed payments, royalties or the creation of a community trust, which could provide funding to local governments in a way similar to the Manistee Revenue Sharing Board that makes payments from money received from Little River Casino Resort slot machine profits.

“This is hopefully the first in a series of meetings,” said Warner, who is hoping to hold another meeting in mid January.

People can now share their opinions with their elected local officials.

Concerns

Many people asked questions Tuesday, including those about potential effects on birds, effects on boating and fishing, the potential use of lights and foghorns to warn planes and boats about the wind turbines’ locations.

Dirdal also told the crowd this is a very early stage in a process of trying to build a wind farm and said the company will pay for a feasibility study if it seems like this area of Lake Michigan is what it wants.

He guaranteed people will not be able to hear the wind towers at the beach, Dirdal said, because when the wind is strong enough to power the blades it will also be making noise and there will be wave noise.

Dean Lasley of Mason County’s Summit Township asked Dirdal why he would want the wind farm near his home.

Dirdal said the project will create many construction jobs and up to 100 permanent jobs when it’s finished.
“That’s why I wouldn’t want it, all that activity in my front yard,” Lasley said.

View a slideshow of the images provided by Scandia Winds here www.ludingtondailynews.com/multimedia


Source: http://www.ludingtondailyne...

DEC 16 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/23664-lake-michigan-wind-farm-a-tough-sell
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