HURON COUNTY — Many of those opposed to more wind turbines in Huron County saw the May 2 referendums as the culmination of a David versus Goliath battle.
Considering the amount of money raised for the campaign, it appears they were right.
Five pro-wind farm committees raised at least $875,559, according to campaign records at the Huron County Clerk’s Office.
While wind development was defeated by a near 2-to-1 margin, pro-wind interests were funded nearly 236 times more than anti-wind development interests.
The single anti-wind farm committee, Huron County Wind Resistance, raised $3,715.
The pro-wind farm committees include those opposed to Lincoln Township forming its own planning commission; those opposed to amending Sand Beach Township’s wind ordinance; and those in favor of wind parks proposed by DTE Energy and NextEra Energy Resources LLC.
The highest single contribution was to Say Yes to Huron’s Future for $341,000 by Huron Wind LLC – a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra, which had proposed a wind farm for Sherman, Sigel and Sand Beach townships.
Total contributions to that committee were $417,000 as of May 22.
DTE largely backed Citizens for Fair government, which opposed Lincoln Township’s planning commission. The contributions from Feb. 11 to April 16 totaled $29,977, and most of that was donated by DTE.
DTE has proposed a wind park for Lincoln, Sigel, Dwight and Bloomfield townships.
Records were not yet available for the amount raised and spent after April 16 by Citizens for Fair Government.
Costs of the campaign included public relations, signs, radio, television and print advertisements, polling and legal fees.
The Huron County Wind Coalition raised $274,012 from March 23 to May 22.
Let the People Decide was a committee against changes to the Sand Beach Township wind ordinance. Huron Wind LLC contributed $63,504 on May 5. Contributions to that committee totaled $106,220.
Those changes survived the referendum, and make wind development nearly impossible in Sand Beach township.
Denise Rice of Lincoln Township is the treasurer of Huron County Wind Resistance.
Rice’s hunch is that pro-wind dollars “bought 15 percent of the vote,” but there is no scientific basis for that calculation.
“I know they bought some votes with what they spent,” she said. “I’m sure they did get more votes because they spent that much.”
“The majority of the people were opposed to putting any more turbines in, so that’s why it worked out the way it worked out,” Rice added. “We felt the pressure because with that kind of money against you, you feel it. It actually kind of scares you because you don’t know what the end result will be.”
Another $25,000 has been raised for the Smaller Government Better Government Committee, which opposes the Sherman Township Planning Commission formation. That referendum will take place in August. This takes the amount of money recently raised to support wind development in Huron County to over $1 million.