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The world’s biggest wind-turbine company has filed lawsuits against five rural governments because they stand between it and millions in tax subsidies.
BAD AXE — It is no surprise that both sides of the community have been vocal when expressing their opinion of the ongoing wind turbine development, but with less than a week until the May 2 referendum elections, the heat has been turned up a notch.
Denise Rice is the treasurer of Huron County Wind Resistance, which is raising money for awareness of its core issue: “Enough is enough,” Rice said of the 473 turbines throughout the county. “You can argue all kinds of points, but that sums it up.”
For a number of years, five of nine Huron County planning commissioners had wind contracts, said Robert McLean, vice chair of the Paris Township Planning Commission. He was a member of the former Huron County Wind Energy Zoning Committee, and is running for a seat on the county planning commission. “The fox was guarding the hen house way back when,” McLean told the Tribune recently.
UPPER THUMB — Under a voluntary program by DTE Energy, customers can “reduce their carbon footprint” by contributing to the company’s green energy costs.
The Almer Township board of trustees denied an application for special land use permit that would have cleared the way for a Florida-based energy company to erect 19 wind turbines in the community.
The Almer Township planning commission denied issuing a special use land permit to allow a company to build wind turbines. ...The township ultimately decided the wind turbine company was not in compliance with the ordinance and posed too much of a health and safety risk.
Vollmar...owns property in Almer Township and has lease agreements with NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. as part of the $200 million project known as Tuscola III Wind Energy Center. Almer and Ellington now have one-year moratoriums on wind turbine projects. Vollmar has been vocal in public meetings against those who have consistently called for such moratoriums in light of what they have called “weak ordinances” in place.
Supporters of the project argue the energy source would help the environment, land leases would provide millions of dollars for property owners while creating no health and safety concerns for residents. But opponents are worried about the change in aesthetics in the country setting with the potential 60-story devices and zoning regulations that may disturb future building by property owners not signed on with the project.
But those who live in the county aren’t exactly blown away. Residents say turbines can be detrimental to a township because of the noise, their height, and trespass zoning. Many are concerned it will ruin the view of the country side and property values.
NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. has set sights on private emails, texts, and voice mails as part of an effort to find “potentially impermissible communications” among newly elected officials in Almer and Ellington townships. Jonathan Lauderbach, attorney from the Midland office of Warner, Norcross & Judd L.L.P., sent an email to an attorney representing Almer and Ellington townships just three days after new officials took office in both jurisdictions.
A NextEra Energy Resources official promised to pay $1,000 a year to anyone who owns property in the proposed Sherman Township wind overlay district Thursday at a special township meeting. ...Commissioner David G. Peruski ...said at this point, he considers Pumford’s words to be “hearsay,” and that he has no comment on how this would affect the wind debate until he sees what NextEra proposes in writing.
“I respect that position. It is their right to do so. However, I have an issue with the way the petition circulated.” He said that NextEra Energy hired a firm to circulate the petition.
By a vote of 4-1, the Ellington board passed the one-year moratorium in a special meeting held Tuesday. The Almer Township also held a special meeting Tuesday and voted to discuss a similar moratorium at its Dec. 13 meeting.
The brothers later told The Advertiser they felt it was the right time to publicly announce the incident because they want people to know that they feel NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. – and the companies representing them in Tuscola County – isn’t always the “good neighbor” officials from the company purport to be.
Newly elected members to the Almer Charter Township Board and to the Ellington Township Board of Trustees brought a new attitude about wind development. The two townships held back-to-back special meetings Tuesday at the Tuscola Technology Center, and each made similar motions about slowing down a wind development project in their townships.
“Today I’m here to ask the commissioners to delay making any decisions on the Huron Wind Project that includes Sherman Township until at least after our Dec. 13 meeting,” said Kathi Jahn, Sherman Township clerk.
When asked what Huron County should pursue for alternative energy development, 42 percent of respondents agreed that wind is a viable option, and 40 percent disagreed, with 18 percent saying they were neutral. Wind energy development was second to crime/drug abuse as the top challenges that the county faces.
Many of those in attendance — including residents of Middlebury, Owosso, Fairfield and Rush townships, where the turbines are planned — asked commissioners to put in place a moratorium on wind turbine operations
The Michigan Wind 2 project in Sanilac County brought with it a spike in tax revenue while it grew renewable energy. But Sanilac County just returned more than $230,000 following a settlement with Exelon after the company alleged the local governments did not properly assess the wind turbine project's taxable value.