LAPEER — Lapeer County Board of Commissioners Chairman Gary Roy is putting his potential 2018 reelection on the line in voicing opposition to what he identifies as “horrible” wind turbines under consideration for the northern part of the county.
Roy, whose district two includes Arcadia, Burlington, Burnside, Goodland, and North Branch townships, asked that a prepared statement be read during a meeting held Tuesday at a North Branch Township farm called Rebel Ranch.
Traci Martin said she organized the event quickly after The County Press was the first to report on Oct. 8 that property owners in northeast Lapeer County recently have signed 20 agreements with DTE Energy Co. that are specific to “wind energy development.”
Eight speakers addressed the nearly 200 people who attended.
Roy’s statement was read first by one of the event organizers, Carol Parish. (He couldn’t attend the event due to illness, Parish said.)
“The residents of Lapeer County and the state of Michigan are strapped with an agreement that was made between our former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Detroit Edison (DTE), and Consumers Power following a statewide vote of the people to allow for 10 percent of all energy produced in the state of Michigan to be generated to be generated with a renewable energy,” Roy said in his statement. “Unfortunately, people did not realize that even though we have enough energy it would have to be reduced to allow for the renewable 10 percent solar and wind.”
Roy also took “environmentalists” to task over their approach to “saving the planet.”
“Unfortunately, their goal is to put the fossil fuel industry — coal, natural gas, and oil — out of business,” Roy said. “Could you imagine what it would cost to heat, light, gas your cars and tractors and totally run your homes and business on electricity? Most of us would go broke paying the light bill.”
Roy noted that late in 2016, the Michigan legislature “in the middle of the night, with the lobbyists from DTE, wind energy companies, environmental groups, decided to increase the 10 percent of all energy to 15 percent, even after the people of the state of Michigan voted against doing that.”
“I suppose it was easy for state reps and senators from Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties to vote for this because they realize that these huge monstrosities would not end up in their counties, destroying their property values, roads, having huge transmission lines being built across peoples’ property to move the electricity,” Roy continued. “Their residents would not have to deal with the noise, the sun flicker, or the flashing lights in the night so it’s easy to say ‘they will go up in the Thumb, they will not have the representation in the legislature to defend their residents so let’s destroy their land, property values, and friendships. It does not affect us.’”
Roy said he believes those same companies that pushed the increased mandate in late 2016 are now “pouncing on Lapeer County, trying to jam these horrible, inefficient windmills down the throats of our residents by offering leases to a few residents for their land before the townships can write ordinances to stop them, turning neighbor against neighbor.”
“This is their strategy in Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola families that have been neighbors for generations (and) will no longer speak to each other,” the statement continues. “They turn their backs on each other in stores, and shun each other in church, and for what? Windmills?”
A company spokesman confirmed DTE is in “the very early stages of talking to area landowners about a possible project at some point five to 10 years from now.”
Concurrently, several area townships have begun the process of adopting new wind ordinances.
“I am not writing this to debate the environmentalists that are here today, I’m here commenting because I do not want to see the landscape, property values, and friendships destroyed in a county I have lived in for over 70 years,” Roy said.
That statement prompted several of those in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting to break out in applause.
“Lapeer County is much different than Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties — we have roughly twice the population in the same land area with a larger percentage of single family residents,” Roy continued. “This means that many more people will be affected by dropping property values. Does DTE or Consumers Power care? Obviously not.”
In concluding, Roy noted that he has been a county commissioner for 11 years with one more year on his current term.
He also said that if he seeks reelection in 2018, “it will be for my last term.”
“If I lose because of my opposition to windmills in Lapeer County, so be it,” Roy wrote. “I cannot imagine these in the prettiest and most productive part of Lapeer County.”