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Developers of proposed $3 billion Lake Michigan wind farm say project would hurt view, help economy

The first off-shore utility-scale wind farm proposed for this side of Lake Michigan was presented Tuesday night. The massive 100- to 200-turbine project was outlined by a Norwegian wind development company Havgul Clean Energy AS for the waters off northern Oceana and southern Mason counties. ...The more than 150 people at the first public presentation on the project were overwhelmingly opposed to the plan.

SCOTTVILLE -- The first off-shore utility-scale wind farm proposed for this side of Lake Michigan was presented Tuesday night.

The massive 100- to 200-turbine project was outlined by a Norwegian wind development company Havgul Clean Energy AS for the waters off northern Oceana and southern Mason counties.

The $3 billion Aegir Offshore Wind Farm is being suggested for a 100-square-mile area from the Ludington Pumped Storage Facility south to Silver Lake State Park near Mears.

The 300- to 450-foot-high turbines would be built as close as two miles offshore from Silver Lake to 41/2 miles off the Ludington shoreline.

The more than 150 people at the first public presentation on the project were overwhelmingly opposed to the plan. Objections ranged from the effect on views from beaches to concerns for property values.

However, a minority of the audience at the meeting at West Shore Community College was supportive, based on job creation and wanting alternative energy.

"We have something we think is a good idea," said project manager Harald Dirdal..

"We are not here to force this upon you. We are not going to do this if your county (officials) say no."

The... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

SCOTTVILLE -- The first off-shore utility-scale wind farm proposed for this side of Lake Michigan was presented Tuesday night.

The massive 100- to 200-turbine project was outlined by a Norwegian wind development company Havgul Clean Energy AS for the waters off northern Oceana and southern Mason counties.

The $3 billion Aegir Offshore Wind Farm is being suggested for a 100-square-mile area from the Ludington Pumped Storage Facility south to Silver Lake State Park near Mears.

The 300- to 450-foot-high turbines would be built as close as two miles offshore from Silver Lake to 41/2 miles off the Ludington shoreline.

The more than 150 people at the first public presentation on the project were overwhelmingly opposed to the plan. Objections ranged from the effect on views from beaches to concerns for property values.

However, a minority of the audience at the meeting at West Shore Community College was supportive, based on job creation and wanting alternative energy.

"We have something we think is a good idea," said project manager Harald Dirdal..

"We are not here to force this upon you. We are not going to do this if your county (officials) say no."

The project, being proposed in conjunction with Minnesota-based Scandia Wind Offshore, would take five to 10 years to complete and needs numerous approvals from federal, state and local governments.

Havgul and Scandia officials are gauging public opinion on whether to proceed with extensive economic and environmental studies that would [take] several years and cost $10 million, Dirdal said.

Some said they heard enough.

The most vocal opposition at the meeting appeared to be from the Pentwater area, which is in the middle of the impacted coastline.

"We are almost 100 percent reliant on tourism," Pentwater Township resident James Holbrook said. "The view of is critical. We are selling scenery, and that's the lake."

Photos shown of the development did not hide the project's visual effect.

"Yes, it will change the view from the shoreline, and that is a negative," Dirdal said.

"If I had a house on the beach, (the view) would be more beautiful without a wind turbine. I recognize that."

The tradeoff is economic development and an estimated thousands of jobs during the five to seven years of construction, Dirdal said.

He added the wind farm would employ 100 to 200 people when operational.

Unemployment in October was 12.8 percent in Mason County and 15.9 percent in Oceana County, according to the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth.

The economic benefits would be regionwide, utilizing the port facilities of Ludington and Muskegon's deep-water port.

If the company's technology for wind turbine deployment on the Great Lakes could be developed in the area, that could create "thousands" of jobs with workers creating products exported to other regions and states, Dirdal said.

The economic arguments won over Ren Willis-Frances, of Ludington.

"I'm in favor of this," she said. "We are in a depressed area and we need jobs. If we can get jobs by doing something good like alternative energy, all the better."

Havgul and Scandia have been looking for U.S. wind farm locations for about two years, and settled on a Lake Michigan site in the last six months.

The group first looked off the Holland shoreline, but found conditions and connections the best along the Oceana-Mason county line.

The winds north of Silver Lake State Park are considered among the best in the United States, Dirdal said.

The connections to the electrical grid at the Ludington Pumped Storage Facility reduces the cost of distribution and West Michigan is close to the large population centers of Detroit and Chicago, he said.

The project also found opposition on concerns about recreational boating, Native American fishing rights and sound and light issues at night.

Dirdal said those and other issues would be addressed in future studies and would need government regulators' support.

Noise and "light flicker" are not issues for wind farms offshore as much as for land-based, he said.

The sound of the lake's waves would not allow anyone on shore to hear the turbines. Also, the angle of the sun-- even at sunset -- would keep any light flickers from reaching the shoreline, Dirdal said.

Havgul and Scandia officials plan more discussions with local and county officials with another public meeting in Oceana County possibly next month.


Source: http://www.mlive.com/news/m...

DEC 16 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23645-developers-of-proposed-3-billion-lake-michigan-wind-farm-say-project-would-hurt-view-help-economy
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