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Wind farm discussion dominates Scripps' coffee hour

State Rep. Dan Scripps presented his views on the Race to the Top effort to qualify Michigan and local districts for federal education funds, but another topic was on the mind of the handful of constituents who attended his monthly coffee hour at House of Flavors Restaurant in downtown Ludington Monday: the offshore wind farm idea a Norwegian company is floating.

State Rep. Dan Scripps presented his views on the Race to the Top effort to qualify Michigan and local districts for federal education funds, but another topic was on the mind of the handful of constituents who attended his monthly coffee hour at House of Flavors Restaurant in downtown Ludington Monday: the offshore wind farm idea a Norwegian company is floating.

Scripps complimented the Scandia Wind Offshore company for being open and seeking public comment on the concept of erecting up to 200 wind towers in Lake Michigan between Ludington and Little Point Sable, noting there is no requirement currently that they do so.

In fact, the Democrat from Leland, who has been asked to work on a legislative work group looking into the issue of wind energy in Michigan, said in general there isn't a process in place now in Michigan for handling such a request.

Furthermore, he said, the state is really in the study phase of how to determine siting for offshore wind farms and he pointed to the work of the Michigan Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council, which recently released its recommendations as a potential framework for where offshore wind farms might be located.

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State Rep. Dan Scripps presented his views on the Race to the Top effort to qualify Michigan and local districts for federal education funds, but another topic was on the mind of the handful of constituents who attended his monthly coffee hour at House of Flavors Restaurant in downtown Ludington Monday: the offshore wind farm idea a Norwegian company is floating.

Scripps complimented the Scandia Wind Offshore company for being open and seeking public comment on the concept of erecting up to 200 wind towers in Lake Michigan between Ludington and Little Point Sable, noting there is no requirement currently that they do so.

In fact, the Democrat from Leland, who has been asked to work on a legislative work group looking into the issue of wind energy in Michigan, said in general there isn't a process in place now in Michigan for handling such a request.

Furthermore, he said, the state is really in the study phase of how to determine siting for offshore wind farms and he pointed to the work of the Michigan Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council, which recently released its recommendations as a potential framework for where offshore wind farms might be located.

According to Scripps, that study cited 537 square miles of Great Lakes area under Michigan control most suitable for development that meet the needs of the industry the state hopes to attract. None of those sites are near Ludington. The area in question on the study's maps is considered "conditional." The most acceptable areas cited in the study, according to Scripps, included Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron, the northwestern shore of Lake Michigan near Escanaba, and the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Scripps used a borrowed map to show the areas.

The same group, he said, has recommended wind farms be at least six miles offshore in most areas and 13 miles offshore of designated national lakeshores to minimize visual and aesthetic effects. The 100 square mile Skandia Aegir offshore wind farm, as described, would be from two to four miles off the coast.

"We have to do it the right way," Scripps said of developing offshore wind energy.

That, he continued, includes creating a mechanism for proper local input in order to help determine the balance between the needs of offshore wind developers and other interests, including tourism.

Ludington resident Anne Broderick cited about 10 concerns ranging from turbines leaking oil that could foul beaches to the effect on tourism, fishing and sailboat and yacht traffic to Pentwater. She advocated moving the project to the Manistee National Forest, where she said, no one lived and no one cared.

"We have so much to lose and so little to gain," Broderick told Scripps.

"We need a more deliberative process," Scripps replied. "I'm not sure we have achieved it."

The Great Lakes Wind Council approach "is the right way rather than a Wild West approach," he said.

Another person asked why can't the same suggested 13-mile buffer proposed for designated national lakeshore areas be used for the entire shoreline?

Scripps said he considers Ludington State Park and the Nordhouse Dunes Wildnerness Area on the lake in the Manistee National Forest just north of the park as "treasures that deserve to be protected."

Such "unique" areas, he said, need to be identified.

At least one person in attendance spoke in favor of the proposal.

Scripps was uncertain about how personal property taxes might be paid on the structures and whether or not local governments would see a share of that, adding, in theory county lines extend into the lake, though the lake bottom is claimed by the state. And, he said, "presumably" the state will want to capture some royalties on power generated by offshore turbines, as it does collect royalties from gas and oil development on state lands.

Scripps wondered if the state currently has the ability to deny a permit if one was sought for such projects.

"That's an open question," he said.


Source: http://www.ludingtondailyne...

JAN 6 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23975-wind-farm-discussion-dominates-scripps-coffee-hour
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