Library filed under Energy Policy from Michigan
When offshore wind farms have been discussed along the lakeshore, the debate has centered on how the turbines would look and whether they would kill birds. Testimony was taken on comprehensive offshore wind turbine legislation, which seems destined to remain in committee as the Michigan Legislature ends its term this week.
Legislation that would pave the way for wind power in the Great Lakes is scheduled for its first hearing Tuesday in the state House Energy and Technology Committee.
The Huron County Board of Commissioners approved the two amendments in July, but they now are up for a vote of residents in the county's zoning jurisdiction because a petition was filed to get the amendments on Tuesday's ballot. The two proposals, if approved by the majority of eligible voters, would not automatically approve wind developments.
The daughter of the Sigel Township resident who earlier this week filed a notice of intent to get a proposal on the November ballot asking voters whether two new wind districts should be created in Huron County, said Friday her mother's motive is to give the people a say in this issue.
Today, state Rep. Tom McMillin of Michigan introduced a resolution (H.R. 277) urging his state's governor to withdraw Michigan from continued participation in the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA), an agreement among the region's governors to reduce greenhouse gases through a regional cap-and-trade program. ...nearby participating states intend to introduce similar measures in their own legislatures.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm's support of offshore wind development in Michigan is clear. The governor has embraced locating huge utility-scale wind turbines offshore on some of the 38,000 square miles of Michigan's Great Lakes bottomlands. ...She acknowledged being term-limited and leaving the governor's office at the end of December. She said she wants offshore wind policies and regulations in place before the end of her term.
The ‘Green Thumb' isn't going to get much greener unless some key things are addressed in the future. The area's transmission grid has to be upgraded in order to support any new wind development, said experts at the Michigan Wind Energy Conference at Cobo Hall in Detroit.
With legislative recommendations officially proposed by the Great Lakes Wind Council, the Lake Michigan P.O.W.E.R. Coalition is hoping the state legislature will improve on recommendations to establish a state process to better protect the Great Lakes and local interests. The coalition also responded to the March 2 proposal by Scandia Wind LLC to reduce the size of its Lake Michigan wind farm.
A governor-appointed advisory panel has issued its recommended state rules and regulations for offshore wind developments in the Great Lakes, stopping short of a stand on how far the turbines should remain from shore. The minimum-distance issue has been a point of contention for opponents of offshore wind farms, some of whom say turbines will spoil the view.
The MPSC on Wednesday designated the Thumb area as a primary wind energy zone. The zone consists of parts of Bay, Huron, Saginaw, Sanilac and Tuscola Counties. This area was as Region 4 by the Michigan Wind Energy Resource Zone Board in an Oct. 15, 2009 final report. Per state law, the Wind Energy Resource Zone Board was created to identify areas within the state that have the most potential for wind energy development.
A university intends to measure Lake Michigan's potential for offshore wind power with a $1.4 million federal grant. ..."We are not putting wind turbines out there," said Arn Boezaart, interim director of the university's Alternative and Renewable Energy Center. "Funding has not allowed for that to happen. We are developing an offshore project to develop wind data on Lake Michigan, as well as other research information on top of that."
A few weeks ago I wrote about Public Act 295, called the “Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act.” This deceptively named law requires all Michigan utilities to produce 10% of their energy from renewable energy sources by 2015. Of course, the “renewable energy” they’re talking about is the kind we don’t have. Its water, biomass, and wind. It specifically excludes coal, nuclear and oil, three things we can buy or build that generate lots of cheap electricity. The kind of reliable, cheap power that people look for when they’re going to build a plant that employs people.
About 60 people took time out of their day Monday to hear a presentation and give comments to the state's Wind Energy Resource Zone Board. ...One thing Walter stressed over and over again throughout the hearing was that people shouldn't focus on individual properties included or excluded in the report. The board's charge was to identify on a "macro" scale where the best potential wind and available land coincide. It eliminated sensitive areas, areas around airports, assumed a setback of one mile for Great Lakes shorelines
The city of Grand Rapids has advised Grand Haven Township officials it may ultimately seek permits to erect large wind turbines at the city-owned Lake Michigan Filtration Plant on the shoreline. ..."We've got what we think is enough land there to create some isolation from the homes along the lakeshore, and still be able to capture the lake winds that blow strongly through that area," said Heartwell.
As Michigan seeks to close its wind power gap with neighboring states, it is also approaching a formidable political hurdle. Is the state ready to accept offshore wind turbines in waters prized by boaters and wealthy lakeshore property owners alike? ... The Michigan Great Lakes Wind Council is recommending amending Public Act 325 to allow offshore waters to be included in the public trust. That would give the state authority to override local opposition.
The proposal discussed Monday calls for 30 percent of the state's power to come from sources such as wind and solar by 2025. It would build upon a state law adopted last year that requires 10 percent of the state's power to come from renewable sources by 2015.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm took to a conference stage this past week to sell a national audience on her vision of a green Michigan - a state whose natural resources, work force and empty factories can attract alternative energy jobs. ...Energy experts and executives at the same conference say it's a green gamble for Michigan or any state to take, and time is not on their side. They argue the federal government is creating unrealistic expectations.
Wind power kicks in 0.05 percent of the state's power. In spite of this marginal contribution, there remains a widespread misconception that giant wind turbines, situated in the right locations, are a viable alternative. Unfortunately, big wind farms have prohibitive costs for infrastructure and construction and are inefficient. ...Huge, rotating 80-foot blades catch the wind and are connected by a mammoth driveshaft to convert mechanical power into electrical energy. This is like having a diesel locomotive balanced on a 200-foot pole.
"I'd like to see us not charge people extra just to do green things," said Carruthers, who's also a city commissioner. "We're becoming more sustainable and more green in energy production at Light & Power, so let's just have everybody pay the same rate and do progressive things." The Light & Power board this week canceled the special rate program. But its demise won't mean higher rates for all customers, utility officials said. ...Ten commercial businesses and 73 residences paid green rates, generating about $6,500 a year.
The windswept Great Lakes could play host to an industry some believe could help revive Michigan's comatose economy and fulfill state and national mandates for cleaner, renewable energy. ...Nothing's imminent, but state and federal environmental regulators are preparing for the possibility that utility developers may want to harness wind power from Lake Michigan and the other big lakes.