Several months ago, driving through the Thumb area for a meeting with editors from our sister paper, the Huron Daily Tribune, I was taken aback by the number of wind turbines dotting the landscape.
At the time, I remember wondering about the aesthetic loss and quality of life cost brought on by the turbines.
I have had similar thoughts in the past when driving through the Breckenridge area, where dozens of wind turbines also dot the landscape. But the Thumb area turbines hit me harder, probably because I had lived in that area for 12 years.
The flat fields and scenic farms have been replaced by mechanical monsters with arms spinning in the wind. They dominate the landscape visually, impossible to ignore.
One thing is certain: I wouldn’t want to live by those huge machines.
Turns out, some people in Huron County are thinking the same thing. The Daily News recently ran a story written by the Huron Daily Tribune in Bad Axe that pointed out some residents are not at all happy with the explosion of turbine farms.
“Our quality of life has been taken away, replaced with a pollution of never-ending noise, shadow flicker, red blinking lights and health issues for many,” one resident said.
“It’s a living nightmare around here now,” another said.
And this past week, news media reported that government officials in three Sanilac County townships, to the south of Huron, have either passed a moratorium on wind turbine construction or rejected plans for turbines. A fourth is considering similar action.
Still, the Huron Daily Tribune recently reported that DTE Energy, a utility company similar to Consumers Energy, is looking at a wind project that would cover more than 39,000 acres and 61 square miles of land across four townships. This could end up being the largest wind project ever in Huron County, with some 900 landowners affected.
All of this is occurring because, as a society and in government, there has been a huge push for green energy production. Coal-fired plants are being decommissioned and few new large electricity generating plants are being built. Michigan mandated that utility companies get 10 percent of their energy from green sources, which is what led to the explosion of wind turbine farms in the state.
No doubt, due to the monetary gain involved, there are many people in the Thumb area and elsewhere who don’t mind having the turbines spread across their farm fields. And local governments also likely are enjoying the added boost to tax revenues. One person alluded to this fact in the Daily Tribune article. “It seems like ... all you’re considering with these turbines is the dollar and not the effect that they have on the people in this community. … Shame on you for not protecting this county.”
So what is the answer? Perhaps larger tracts of government land should be considered for wind turbines and other forms of green energy so that the impact on state residents is eliminated. Or perhaps utilities and/or the government will have to step in and purchase properties where people have become victims due to being so close to the wind turbines.
What’s clear, at least to me, is that something has to change. People are being hurt by these wind developments. Their concerns should not fall on deaf ears.
Jack Telfer is editor of the Daily News.