BAD AXE — The same local official who advocated for a moratorium on wind energy projects in December 2014 says it’s now time to permanently halt wind development in Huron County.
The county has 328 wind turbines, more than in any other county in the state. Known plans could push the number to 500 and beyond this year.
“Maybe it’s time to say ‘No more,’ ” Commissioner John Nugent said Tuesday.
He said he was hesitant to bring the subject up, but suggested setting a cap on the amount of wind turbines in Huron County.
It’s not a new idea. Last fall, Commissioner Clark Elftman said 484 turbines is “enough.”
“We’ve done our part for the state of Michigan,” Elftman later told the Tribune. “I’m not anti-wind, I’m not pro-wind. But 500’s enough. I’ve always felt that way.”
Locals for years have talked of a looming “saturation point” for wind turbines. The maximum amount of turbines the county could hold is largely dependent on the amount of leased property in the county, Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith previously said. Officials and residents have pinned the range anywhere from 500 to 1,000 or more.
“I think we’re saturated,” Nugent said Tuesday.
Of Huron’s 28 townships, it’s easier to count the ones that don’t have turbines or aren’t set to get some. Meade, Verona and Paris townships are the only ones inland without. The handful of other townships that don’t have turbines abut shorelines.
Still, hundreds of landowners wanting turbines continue to sign leases with wind developers.
Aside from a clean, renewable energy source that could power thousands of homes, developers say wind energy projects generate millions in tax revenue for the county, preserve farmland and bring jobs to the community.
A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. March 30 for the county’s newest wind project planned by DTE Energy, spanning more than 20,000 acres in four townships.
At the same time, DTE plans to start building its Pinnebog Wind Park on 13,000 acres in Oliver, Chandler and Colfax townships this spring. It would add 30 turbines.
Canada-based Algonquin Power & Utilities says it expects to start erecting 72 turbines in northeastern Huron County this summer.
Traverse City-based Heritage Energy is adding 15 turbines in eastern Huron County and says it is ahead of schedule and expects turbine deliveries by mid-June.