Library from Michigan
A local sand-mining company took the first step toward producing energy from windmills in Muskegon County by winning permission to erect towers on its Lake Michigan dune property that will measure the wind.
After failing in its plans to build 65 upscale homes on land that was once sand-mined, Nugent Sand Co. wants to embark on an experiment involving generation of wind power and is seeking approval tonight. Within the next month, the firm would like to erect two meteorological towers up to 162 feet in height on its property. They would be used only for the next year to test wind speeds and direction.
About 15,000 homes and businesses in Michigan's Thumb will get their electric power from wind energy by next spring, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, utility and business officials announced today. A $90 million joint venture between Wolverine Power and John Deere Wind Energy means 32 wind turbines will be built on a 3,200-acre parcel in Huron County this year and will generate 53 megawatts of electricity by March of 2008. "This wind plant will be the first, we hope, of many," Granholm said. "Investments in the alternative energy industry are key to our economic future." Also today, House Democrats announced a package of bills to encourage investment in various forms of alternative energy
A steady Lake Michigan wind blows through Christmas trees and asparagus on Gerald Greiner's farm. He might as well spit into it. The fourth-generation farmer is among three dozen in western Oceana County who had hoped to start harvesting the wind soon, turning it into a cash crop. They signed leases with a Lowell developer for what would have been Michigan's first energy-creating wind farm, with 90 huge, white turbines - part of a national campaign to fight global warming. "We'd see one just over the top of that hill," said Greiner, 81, pointing out the back window of his ranch home. But some neighbors didn't like the idea, and neither did the local planning commission, which questioned the benefits of wind power and the impact on property values. It's not clear what will happen to the project.
O'Shea, along with officials and planners from jurisdictions throughout northern Michigan, took part in a local seminar last week about how local governments can draft zoning ordinances tailored for small and large wind projects. The presentation was organized by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. Michael Klepinger, extension specialist with Michigan State University, said most jurisdictions in Michigan lack zoning ordinances that specifically address wind power.
TUSTIN - Everything comes at a price. Nearly 50 township and county officials and landowners gathered in Tustin Wednesday to learn how jurisdictions could evaluate what the trade-offs are in bringing wind energy production to their communities. "Nothing we do for energy comes without a cost," said Mike Klepinger, Land Use Specialist for Michigan State University Extension. "We have to decide what kind of cost we are willing to pay."
Officials from Noble Environmental Power, LLC say construction of the Noble Thumb Windpark will not resume this spring as the company originally anticipated in November. "The best case scenario is this fall," said Noble Development Manager Jeanette Hagen. Hagen said the company plans to erect a total of 46 turbines at the Bingham Township location.
The Ann Arbor City Council unanimously approved plans for $9-million Tierra Place project, 200 South Ashley, in downtown Ann Arbor Monday night.......Wind turbines will also be built on top of the building that will look like smoke stacks to produce energy. A green rook will also be built over approximately half of the roof's surface.
As interest in generating wind energy increases across Michigan, so does the need for local officials to establish policies for windmill siting. In response, the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute and MSU Extension have released a new bulletin on land use guidelines for installing wind energy systems.
With energy prices soaring, some in Sherman Township are looking to the skies for an alternative. Developers have already started the process that could lead to wind farms in the northern Osceola community. But before actions go much further, some are saying the township needs to review its growth plans. "Wind farms are something that most likely are going to be here," said Ron Moesta, Sherman Township Planning and Zoning Commission chair. "If it's inevitable, we have to make sure its not interfering with the master plan."
HURON COUNTY - Officials discussed the ramifications a Michigan House bill regarding wind energy would have on the area, and the consensus is, if passed, HB 4254 will not bode well for the county. The bill, which was introduced Feb. 13 by Rep. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, would prohibit local governments from banning wind generators in their zoning ordinances and establish property line setback, noise and maximum generator size regulations. The problem with the bill is it does not take into account planning basics for zoning, said Russ Lundberg, Huron County Director of Building and Zoning, Tuesday evening during the Huron County Board of Commissioners meeting of the whole.
Huron County planners won't take action on a noise study funded by a group critical of windmills in the Thumb. Residents for Sound Economics and Planning paid $3,000 for an ambient noise study by Richard James of E-Coustic Solutions in Okemos.
Wind proponents and opponents alike packed into Wednesday's Huron County Planning Commission meeting to hear a presentation by a noise control engineer who conducted a study to counter that which originally was submitted to the board by Noble Environmental Power, LLC. "Noble did a study for you back in 2005 in which they went through much of what is normally done for site planning, unfortunately what they did was very biased in their favor," said Richard James. He is an acoustics expert who has more than 35 years of experience in Community Noise and a former member of the American National Standards (ANSI) Noise S12 Working group that oversees ANSI Standards for Community Noise. "I can't say that it was biased intentionally, but the end result of what they did was biased."
The future of alternative energy resources in Washtenaw County is now, according to planning and environmental officials. A resolution adopted last year by the County Board of Commissioners allowed planners to study wind generated power in a project that could affect residents and businesses county wide, and pave the way for Washtenaw County energy resources to be weaned away from fossil fuels. Project organizers first will test the county's wind resources to determine if the area can sustain small or large wind turbines, according to a press release. Planers also are looking at economic feasibility and hope to provide future investment grade information to residents, businesses and statewide energy providers. To test the wind, Project Planner Joshua Long said they will erect meteorological towers to gather data in a process expected to last more than year. Planners are waiting on a report for preferred sites throughout the county to build the towers, he said. "That's the stage we're at right now," Long said. "Hopefully, we'll have that report back to us this summer then we'll take 12 to 18 months of gathering the data from the towers to determine just how much wind we have."
Newer, more energy-friendly political winds are beginning to blow in the state. Pending Michigan legislation regarding the regulation of windmills by local zoning bodies, local communities may be impacted. Planning and zoning officials in Leighton Township have discussed the implications contained within the pending Michigan House of Representatives Bills 4648 and 4649, and its impact, should the senate approve them. The proposed legislation, introduced in June 2006 by Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, would allow the construction of electricity-generating windmills in all zoning districts of a township, if the windmills meet certain state criteria for noise and setbacks.
Traverse City Light & Power is in serious pursuit of wind energy and is in talks about creating a windmill farm. But details such as the cost, location and potential partners are sketchy. "What we are doing is we are looking for alternative renewable energy resources and one of the most accessible is wind," said utility chairwoman Linda Johnson. Johnson said the utility board is months away from a vote on a project and, if approved, several years away from its completion.
Officials from Noble Environmental Power said they are continuing to work out agreements with regulators and companies involved with the Thumb's electrical grid that will allow for the construction of Michigan's first commercial wind park to begin later this year. The company plans to erect 41 wind-powered electric turbines in Huron County's Bingham Township near Ubly during the second half of 2007. It recently won approval from the zoning board to install an additional nine turbines.
The first commercial wind farm planned for Michigan's Thumb will be too loud for a rural area and could result in lawsuits unless zoning rules are changed, an Okemos consultant says. Jeanette Hagen, a manager with Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power, which plans to begin erecting 41 large windmills in Huron County's Bingham Township around July, says the consultant's study is flawed and won't stop the long-delayed project from progressing. "So many people are wanting to see these up and we're hoping to get these up and help energize the economy in the Thumb," Hagen said. The study, by E-Coustic Solutions of Okemos, cost about $3,000 and was paid for by Residents for Sound Economics and Planning, a group of Thumb residents that has been critical of the windmill project.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, landfill gas roughly is half methane and half carbon dioxide and water vapor. It also contains small amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen, as well as trace amounts of nonmethane organic compounds and inorganic compounds. According to the agency's Landfill Methane Outreach Program Web site, using landfill gas to produce energy significantly reduces emissions of methane. By replacing the use of fossil fuels, emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants also are decreased. "Given that all landfills generate methane, it makes sense to use the gas for the beneficial purpose of energy generation rather than emitting it to the atmosphere," the agency said. "Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas that is a key contributor to global climate change, over 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Methane also has a 10-year atmospheric life. Because methane is both potent and short-lived, reducing methane emissions from municipal solid waste landfills is one of the best ways to achieve a near-term beneficial impact in mitigating global climate change." But there is some disagreement about how "green" energy is when produced with landfill gas. Critics say nothing that emits dioxins should be considered green energy. Only processes that don't create pollution when making energy, such as wind and solar power, should be considered green and renewable energy sources.
Washtenaw County will begin testing turbines this year to see how feasible wind power would be for homeowners or anyone else wanting to invest in wind in the area. Consultants' work so far shows the western part of the county is windier, but there may be a test site in the eastern part of the county as well, said Tony VanDerworp, director of planning and the environment for the county. The test site, or sites, will consist of one to three turbines, likely to be single-pole mounted and up to 100 meters high. They'll remain in place for up to 18 months to test their feasibility. VanDerworp said the county is not interested in getting into the wind power business, but that the information will be made available to home- and farm owners and businesses interested in wind power development. Wind generation facilities could include wind farms with larger utility-scale turbines that will feed energy to the power grid, or small-scale, on-site turbines that help to power individual homes, businesses and farms. The move, in partnership with the city of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, follows a resolution adopted last year by the county Board of Commissioners that directed staff members to test wind resources locally. The study phase cost about $20,000; the cost of erecting the poles has not been determined yet. They will go up some time this spring.