CARO, MI -- NextEra Energy is one step closer to building its third wind farm in Tuscola County and its fourth in the state.
The Juniata Township Planning Commission on Saturday, Jan. 13, approved the special land use permit for NextEra's proposed Pegasus Wind Energy Center, a 156-megawatt project consisting of 63 GE turbines to be located in Juniata and Fairgrove townships.
Clerk Heidi Stark confirmed that was the only approval the developer needed from Juniata Township officials. Fairgrove Township officials approved NextEra's permit application last fall.
NextEra Energy Resources is seeking to build a wind farm in Tuscola County's Juniata and Fairgrove townships. If approved, it would be the wind energy developer's third such project in Tuscola County and its fourth in the state.
NextEra officials say the Pegasus Wind Energy Center is expected to create 350 construction jobs during the construction phase and seven to 12 full-time jobs once it's operational. In addition, in its first 30 years, the project is expected to generate approximately $35 million in property taxes for the region and approximately $33 million in payments to landowners.
"We are very pleased that the Juniata Township planning commissioners gave a thorough and comprehensive review of our project application and that they voted unanimously to approve the project's permit," Bryan Garner, manager of communications for NextEra Energy Resources, said in a statement.
"The Pegasus Wind project has the potential to bring significant economic and clean energy benefits to the area and we look forward to continue to work through the permitting process so we can build the project and bring it online this year."
Drive to the intersection of Fairgrove and Garner roads in Gilford Township. Walk up a few steps and through an oval-shaped door and you're inside the base of a wind turbine in the middle of Tuscola County farmland.
Garner said Fairgrove Township officials will soon review the project's site plan and NextEra will submit the proposed turbine locations to the Tuscola Airport Zoning Administrator, as required.
The project has captured the attention of members of the Concerned Citizens of Juniata Township.
"I have a lot of concerns," lifelong Juniata Township resident Brenda Bigham previously told MLive/The Saginaw News. "This is something that will impact our community not just today and tomorrow. It's going to impact our community for 20, 30 years to come."
Bigham said she was not approached by NextEra representatives about leasing her land for the proposed project because she doesn't have enough acreage, but some of her neighbors were. She has concerns about noise and the so-called "flicker effect" from the turbines.
"My primary concern at this point, personally, is for the health and safety of my family and the welfare of my family," she said.
"We're getting sick out here," someone called from the outskirts of the makeshift town hall.
NextEra's projects are "well run and they contribute a great deal to the community," Garner previously told MLive/The Saginaw News.
"Safety is foremost in our minds when we site a wind project. We site our wind projects responsibly, in compliance with all local and state and federal guideline," he said. "We have successfully built and operate more than 115 wind energy centers across the country and in Canada.
"Safety is absolutely a priority for us. That said, wind energy is a safe technology and has proven to be so and has successfully generated clean energy for decades now."