Neighbor talks about his concern over living near wind turbines

The strong winter storm that hit Michigan this week may be the cause of a wind turbine collapse on the east side of the state.

After a tower collapsed on the east side of the state Thursday, a West Michigan man says his concern is different.

MASON COUNTY, Mich.-- The strong winter storm that hit Michigan this week may be the cause of a wind turbine collapse on the east side of the state.

The turbine that fell is part of the Harvest One farm near Pigeon, in Michigan's thumb. The turbine provides power to Wolverine Energy in Cadillac and is owned by a company in Iowa. Thursday, the 440-foot tall structure came crashing to the ground.  Only a portion of the tower at the base was left standing.

No one was hurt in the collapse.  The company that runs the farm says they run 47 wind farms across the country and this is its first collapse of this kind.

Construction of wind farms has been a controversial topic in Michigan.  One of the areas that has had an ongoing debate on putting them in and their safety is in Mason County.

At the Lake Winds Energy Park Consumers Energy owns and operates 56 wind turbines.  The turbines in the park are 300 feet in the air.  The tips of the spinning blades reach 476 feet into the air. The 100-megawatt project is partly in Riverton Township.

Ernie Cameron's home and business are surrounded by tall wind turbines.

One tower is just 1,300 feet from his home. Cameron says he was surprised by the amount of concrete and steel used to build the tower's base, and he doesn't believe any of the towers near his property could ever fall to the ground.

When told of the one that fell this week on the east side of the state, Cameron wonders if there was something wrong in the way it was built.

When the wind blows strong in Mason County, the blades stop spinning, Cameron said. "You will see them and they will all shut down."

The only concern he has is over ice that could collect on the spinning blades and potentially be thrown towards his home, he said. "I have not seen it, but that is what scares me."

Consumers Energy is aware of Thursday's incident on the east side of the state. Even though that wind turbine is owned by a company from Iowa, not Consumers Energy, the company is interested in hearing how and why the tower fell.

A spokesperson for Consumers Energy also said Friday company officials review any incidents that occur in the electric utility industry to determine if any action on their system is needed.


FEB 29 2016
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