• A southern Michigan community divided over wind turbine project
    Wheatland Township, Mich. – The rush by power companies in Michigan to replace carbon-based fuel with wind power is running smack up against local residents who are saying, “not in my backyard.” In Hillsdale County’s Wheatland Township, a wind turbine development that looks like a done deal is facing backlash from residents who worry the project will destroy property values, add to noise pollution and affect local artesian wells. “Our community right now is very divided,” said Wheatland Township Supervisor Dave . . .
  • Former lawmaker responds to candidate’s letter
    As chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee, I lost a state Senate primary last year after “dark money” front groups for major utility corporations spent an estimated $1.2 million opposing my election. (Read Tuesday’s Detroit News for an in-depth investigative report on that.) A “dark money” group funded by Consumers Energy lobbyists also spent an estimated $250,000 supporting Democrat Sarah Schulz. The front group “spent an estimated $184,000 on broadcast TV ads touting Schulz,” more than on any other . . .
  • Sherwood Twp board to take up wind energy issue
    A special meeting of the Sherwood Township Board is scheduled for Thursday night on a proposed ordinance that would require a Special Use Permit for wind energy conversion systems. Those opposed to the siting of wind turbines in the northwestern part of Branch County got a major boost from the Sherwood Township Planning Commission this fall when they recommended on a 6-0 vote that the Township Board adopt an amendment to the Township Zoning Ordinance which would require the Special . . .
  • Reports of wind turbine applications in Huron Township untrue
    HURON TOWNSHIP – There has been nothing formally filed with the Huron Township Zoning Administrator’s Office regarding more wind turbines in the township, according to Zoning Administrator Al Wichert. A recent post on Facebook and other reports alleged that the township received an application for 21 to 31 wind turbines. Wichert said there have been discussions regarding additional wind turbines in the township, but nothing has been filed. “By law, I have to be notified,” Wichert said. Before any development would . . .
  • Boards snub $10 million NextEra settlement offer
    A $10 million cash settlement meant to end litigation between alternative energy corporation NextEra Energy Resources and Tuscola County was not accepted by a pair of county entities this week. On July 25, the Tuscola County Airport Zoning Board of Appeals denied variances on 33 wind turbines associated with NextEra’s Pegasus Wind Project, which would place about 60 turbines in Juniata, Fairgrove and Gilford townships. The 33 turbines in question would be close enough to the Tuscola Area Airport that . . .
  • County gets update on wind turbine tax appeals
    BAD AXE – The legal fight to get utility companies to pay what county representatives say is their fair share of taxes for wind turbines took another step this week. Carl Osentoski, the executive director of the Huron County Economic Development Council, and Richard Sundquist, of Cark Hill PLC, provided the Huron County Board of Commissioners an update on the tax appeal efforts. It involves five Michigan counties, Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, Gratiot, and Mason, who have pooled together their resources to . . .
  • Sherwood wind turbine issues far from over
    After 14 meetings over 23 months, Sherwood Township residents will have to wait until Dec. 5 for the township board to vote on a proposed wind turbine control ordinance. The ordinance would set height limits of 330 feet for turbines, set noise levels, establish blade flicker and set minimum setbacks from property line and residences. Township attorney Catherine Kaufman said a special board meeting Tuesday had not been noticed in accordance with Michigan’s Open Meeting Act. She will prepare the . . .
  • Branch County debates where to allow wind turbines
    Anna Kien calls herself an environmentalist. The Sherwood Township resident believes in the importance of renewable energy. But she doesn’t support wind turbine projects in Branch County. “A lot of people like to say, ‘Oh, you’re against wind, you’re against green energy, and it’s none of the above. It’s improper siting. I mean, these are industrial, 500 plus foot machines coming into areas that historically they never ever would have been,” she said. “It transforms the land into an industrial . . .
  • Wind turbine opponents gearing up for court battle
    WHEATLAND TWP. – A grassroots activist group opposing the installation of wind turbines in Wheatland Township is preparing to take their fight to court, after the Township’s Board of Trustees denied their petition for an administrative appeal and request for a hearing. Informed Citizens of Wheatland Township received confirmation this week from their attorney, Nicholas Klaus of Klaus Law, PLLC, that Wheatland Township’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) has denied their appeal. A letter from Stanley M. Sala, Esq., who is . . .
  • Michigan’s not good for wind power, so Consumers Energy customers will pay more
    The Michigan Public Service Commission recently approved an application from Consumers Energy to buy an industrial wind farm development in Hillsdale County that is projected to begin operations by December 2020. The Crescent Wind Project is said to have a levelized cost of electricity, a common industry metric, of about $48 per megawatt hour over a 31-year period. That’s above the average national cost, and the rate will hold only if the big utility company is allowed to use federal . . .
  • Wise voters reject zoning amendment
    For the second time in two years, voters in Wise Township rejected amendments to their zoning ordinance that would have permitted construction of wind turbines. The amendment went down 136 voting against to 99 voting for, 58 percent to 42 percent. Turnout in the township was unusually high for an off-year election at 30 percent. The amendment established parameters for the construction of turbines. Although language permitting them in the township was included in 2012, it didn’t include things like . . .
  • Conflict of interest: Officials with turbine tower leases approve wind development
    An industrial wind facility is set to launch in Hillsdale County next year, despite significant opposition from local residents and questions. The opposition stems in part from a series of approvals granted by Wheatland Township officials who stand to benefit financially from the construction and operation of wind turbine towers and related facilities. Opponents of the Crescent Wind Energy Center, organized as Concerned Citizen of Wheatland Township, claim the township’s planning commission and board rammed through ordinance modifications and use . . .
  • Great Lakes offshore wind — possibility or pipe dream?
    Like a spinning turbine barely visible on the horizon, the end of a regulatory odyssey to get approval for what would be the first U.S. freshwater offshore wind farm is now within sight for developers. A final approval is needed from the Ohio Power Siting Board, which is among more than a dozen agencies that must sign off on the 20.7-megawatt Icebreaker project, a demonstration wind farm about 8 miles from downtown Cleveland in Lake Erie. The board hasn’t signaled . . .
  • Residents upset over proposed wind farm in Wheatland Township
    A pro­posed wind farm in Hillsdale County’s Wheatland Township has been met with the resis­tance of 120 angry res­i­dents. Members from the group “Informed Cit­izens of Wheatland Township” gathered outside Wheatland Township Hall during the Oct. 8 township board meeting to voice their dis­ap­proval for the wind farm ini­tially pro­posed from Invenergy, an Illinois-based energy company. Chris Pollard, a res­ident of Wheatland Township, is leading the efforts to slow down con­struction of the wind farm. “The wind tur­bines are not . . .
  • Michigan embarks on renewable energy public, company information campaign
    A new initiative in Michigan to encourage and guide individuals and businesses in the transition to clean energy has been launched by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Public Service Commission. Called MI Power Grid, the initiative will serve as a centralized source for information and is designed to engage utility customers and other stakeholders to help integrate new clean energy technologies. It also will produce feedback to help utilities optimize grid investments for reliable, affordable electricity service. The MIPowerGrid.com . . .
  • Apex nearing site choices for its 136 Isabella project turbines
    Within the next couple of weeks, Apex Clean Energy LLC will start letting property owners in northern Isabella County know where they plan to build their 136 wind turbines. Originally, they were permitted to construct 157, but after switching to a shorter turbine that generates more power they found they could get by with fewer, said Albert Jongewaard, Apex’s development manager. Seven of the sites originally slated for turbines that won’t get them are in Vernon Township. They were removed . . .
  • Proposed wind farm meets resistance
    WHEATLAND TWP. – Plans to construct a 166-megawatt commercial wind farm in Hillsdale County have some residents up in arms. On Tuesday, upwards of two dozen protestors gathered outside Wheatland Township Hall to picket before a board of trustees meeting. They carried signs expressing their opposition to the project, which would see an unknown number of wind turbines erected in Adams, Moscow and Wheatland townships. Chris Pollard, one of the organizers behind Tuesday’s demonstration, said his group, which call themselves the . . .
  • State regulator gives Consumers Energy OK to recover cost of wind farm
    Lansing – State utility regulators on Monday approved Consumers Energy’s request to recover the full cost of its purchase of a 166-megawatt wind farm in Hillsdale County. On July 31, Consumers requested the Michigan Public Service Commission approve its bid to recover the full cost of its build-transfer contract with Crescent Wind LLC. The contract requires Crescent Wind to engineer, construct, install, start up, and test the wind farm in Adams, Moscow and Wheatland townships, then sell it to the Jackson-based . . .
  • Planners discuss turbines in master plan update
    BAD AXE – The Huron County Planning Commission finally heard updates about the revisions to the county’s Master Plan at this week’s meeting. Alan Bean, a project planner for Spicer Group, spoke at Wednesday’s meeting about the changes – mostly dealing with renewable energy – and the planners discussed what they wanted to be included. In a section dealing with wind turbines, the planners wanted information included about how residents voted down two separate proposals for wind overlay districts in 2017. Planner . . .
  • County planning commission gives final official greenlight to wind project
    An Isabella County wind project that created two years worth of drama received its final approval last week in almost anti-climactic fashion. The Isabella County Planning Commission gave its approval to site plans for 82 wind turbines slated for construction in Nottawa and Gilmore townships at a special meeting Sept. 23. It was the second meeting and a third was scheduled for Oct. 23, but that one was canceled. Approval of the site plans, making sure that individual turbines adhere . . .
  • DTE to request bids for solar and wind projects
    One of Michigan’s largest utilities is looking to purchase electricity from solar- and wind-powered producers to help meet government-mandated and its own renewable energy goals. DTE Energy is seeking to buy 25 to 200 megawatts of electricity from solar projects and 100 to 200 megawatts from wind projects, the company said. The company will consider projects reaching commercial operation between 2021 and 2023. The open bid will look for participation from large and small developers, the company said in a . . .
  • Sherwood planning passes wind turbine ordinance
    SHERWOOD TOWNSHIP – After 22 months of work, the Sherwood Township Planning Commission has recommend the first Wind Turbine control ordinance to its township board. After an 8-0 vote, it will go to the township for its Nov. 4 meeting. The detailed ordinance will need a few minor amendments but is essentially the draft put together by Chris Khorey of consultants McKenna and Associates. While it has the support of Concerned Citizens of Branch County, DTE Energy presented an analysis to . . .
  • Turbine opponents gets boost from commission
    Those opposed to the siting of wind turbines in the northwestern part of Branch County got a major boost from the Sherwood Township Planning Commission Tuesday night. The Planning Commission recommended on a 6-0 vote that the Township Board adopt an amendment to the Township Zoning Ordinance which would require a Special Use Permit for wind energy conversion systems. It would also establish what some regard as stringent regulations and standards. Sherwood Township officials have been dealing with the wind . . .
  • Batavia to wait on wind turbine zoning
    BATAVIA TOWNSHIP – The Batavia Township Planning Commission is not yet ready to tackle a wind turbine ordinance, Trustee Mike Crenshaw told the township board Tuesday night. At the Aug. 26 planning meeting, Crenshaw said: “a lot of people stood up and told us what their wishes were.” A petition of 96 residents plus six letters were given to the commission. The number of names has not increased to 122. “The gist of it is they did not want them or . . .
  • Turbines found within wind ordinance limits
    BAD AXE – A report about noise levels at Apple Blossom Wind Farm in Winsor and McKinley Townships found that all wind turbines were in compliance. Andrew Johnson, the wind facility manager for Apple Blossom, was present to lead a presentation about the findings. Johnson brought in Ben Copenhaver, an acoustics sound engineer from Minneapolis-based HDR Engineering who oversaw the noise testing, to explain the findings. The testing was conducted on four different turbine sites, labeled M1, M2, M4, and . . .
  • Wise Township to hold November referendum on turbine provisions
    Wise Township voters will decide in November whether they are okay with an amendment to the township’s zoning ordinance creating specific requirements for wind turbines. The amendment was adopted by the township board in January, said Township Clerk Doris Methner. Cliff Thompson, a township resident, filed petitions in February to take the amendment to an election. Election Day is Nov. 5 Wise Township in 2012 adopted general language providing for wind turbines under special use provision, she said. That language . . .
  • As zebras watch, Detroit Zoo announces switch to wind energy
    Royal Oak – Before an attentive audience of elected officials, reporters and zebras, the Detroit Zoo announced Thursday that it’s embracing a renewable energy plan and will ultimately draw all of its electricity from Michigan wind parks. The contract, part of DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower program, will take effect in 2021. The wind parks, two in mid-Michigan’s Isabella County and one in the Upper Peninsula’s Delta County, are scheduled for completion in late 2020. The latest step in what the Detroit Zoological . . .
  • County to sign deal to back wind turbine decommissioning with $200,000 apiece
    Isabella County entered into an agreement Tuesday night that is intended to pay the bill when it comes time to tear down the turbines in a wind farm in the north-central part of the county. Under the agreement, Isabella Wind, LLC, will take out a $200,000 bond for each turbine it builds. The company is currently planning to build up to 136 turbines, a number scaled back from the 157 it was permitted to build by the county’s planning commission . . .
  • Isabella Township rejects proposals for go-it-alone on zoning
    For the second August in two years, voters in Isabella Township overwhelmingly rejected a ballot proposal that would have required the township board to leave the county’s zoning ordinance and do its own. By an even larger margin, they defeated a second ballot question that would have established a millage to pay for the new zoning. Township zoning was voted down, 216 no votes to 74 votes in favor of the township going alone. The millage failed by 240 against . . .
  • Voters narrowly accept controversial turbine ordinance
    ROGERS CITY – Voters in some parts of Presque Isle County voted narrowly on Tuesday to support a controversial wind turbine ordinance, while voters in Metz said yes to a five-year renewal of a tax for road repairs. According to unofficial results Tuesday, 322 voters in 11 of the county’s townships voted to keep the wind turbine rules written by the county Board of Commissioners, while 303 voters in those townships voted against the ordinance. That’s a difference of only 19 . . .
  • Wind farm east of Muskegon met with lawsuits, recall attempts
    MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – A proposed wind farm project at the border of Muskegon and Kent counties continues to be the subject of sharp division between residents, their elected officials and the project’s developer. Two lawsuits have been filed against Casnovia Township since it approved a special use permit for the wind farm in April. One lawsuit was filed by residents opposed to the project, and the other by the project’s developer, American Electric Power. Meanwhile, three members of the . . .
  • DTE plans to boost renewable energy output
    HURON COUNTY – Paul Funk, a land surveyor for DTE Energy, has sat in on plenty of Huron County Planning Commission meetings dealing with a proposed solar energy ordinance. During planner’s special meeting in July – held to further work on a solar energy ordinance for the county – Funk discussed landowner rights and letting people have the right to participate in solar projects. Then, Funk made a bold claim. “DTE has 1,000 megawatts of renewable,” Funk said. “The tax credits will be . . .
  • Zeeland removes wind turbines after falling ‘in the red’
    ZEELAND – Two 125-foot-tall wind turbines owned by the city of Zeeland were initially expected to pay for themselves in about 10 years, but are being retired and removed from Helder Park this week. The removal of the wind turbines is expected to be complete by Friday, Aug. 9. Work will be “substantially done” before that, said Andrew Boatright, Zeeland Board of Public Works utilities manager. Removing large underground foundation is expected to take a little longer, Boatright explained. The structures . . .
  • Firm gives opinion on county’s 2015 turbine ordinance
    BAD AXE – During this week’s Huron County Board of Commissioners meeting, Huron County Corporate Counsel Steve Allen spoke about a legal opinion related to the county’s long in-development master plan. The opinion, provided by Detroit-based Clark Hill PLC, had to deal with bringing re-powered wind turbines up to the standards of Huron County’s Wind Energy Facility Overlay Ordinance, which was revised in 2015. An opinion from Clark Hill was ordered last September after Commissioner John Bodis reviewed a draft of . . .
  • A win against wind
    There is hope for the Concerned Citizens of Branch County, opponents of a proposed DTE wind farm in parts of Batavia, Matteson, Sherwood, and Union Townships, after a Friday ruling from the Michigan Public Service Commission. The Commission said “DTE failed to prove that proposed company owned wind projects to be built in 2021 or later, and which do not qualify for the full federal tax credit, can be cost-effective compared to alternative sources of renewable generation and ownership models.” . . .
  • Voters to get say on wind turbine rules
    ROGERS CITY – When voters in some parts of Presque Isle County head to the polls on Aug. 6, they will have a chance to decide whether or not to keep a controversial wind turbine ordinance. Voters in Metz Township also will determine whether to renew a property tax for road improvements. Presque Isle County’s Ordinance 2 was passed by the county Board of Commissioners last year, specifying setbacks for wind turbines as well as solar energy installations. The ordinance also . . .
  • DTE’s purchase of 3 wind parks approved as it plans largest renewable energy operation in Michigan
    DTE Energy Co. has received state approval to purchase three wind parks in Michigan to build what it says will be the largest clean energy operations in the state. The Michigan Public Service Commission approved the Detroit-based company’s plan to buy two wind parks in Isabella County in mid-Michigan and one in Delta County in the Upper Peninsula, according to a Thursday news release from DTE. Decisions on the company’s renewable energy plans beyond the three wind parks are to . . .
  • Local group ups media battle against DTE Energy
    A citizens group in northwest Branch County opposed to the siting of wind turbines is fighting back against DTE Energy radio commercials that have been running in recent months. Commercials supporting the views of Concerned Citizens of Branch County have aired in recent days. The group’s Pam Reid says some people have a misconception about what they stand for. Reid says they are not anti-renewable energy, but are against improper siting and incompatible land use) Anna Keim says the group . . .
  • Wind farm developers challenge township’s terms
    Construction of a controversial wind farm project in southeastern Muskegon County is on hold while two legal challenges – including one from the developer – move forward. In April, Casnovia Township approved the special use permit for American Electric Power’s Kenowa Ridge Wind Energy Project in a 3-2 vote. But that wasn’t the end of it. “That special use approval was subject to several conditions,” township attorney Catherine Kaufman said Monday. “I believe it was over 30.” In May, the township laid . . .
  • FAA rules new wind farm will pose ‘no hazard’ at Mt. Pleasant airport
    The Federal Aviation Administration has informed the City of Mt. Pleasant that it does not think a new wind farm will pose a hazard at the local airport. Apex Clean Energy is in the midst of planning a large wind farm project in northern Isabella County. Some of the wind turbines will be near airports and landing strips in the county. Earlier this year, the FAA asked the operators of the airports to weigh in if they had any concerns. . . .
  • Blade breaks off wind turbine in Garden Peninsula
    A blade on a wind turbine in the Garden peninsula broke on Wednesday morning. According to Heritage Sustainable Energy, the safety features in the turbine engaged automatically and the turbine shut down immediately. Nobody was injured and Heritage says that they implemented their safety protocols and the area is secured. The team at Heritage is working to determine the cause of the break and the next steps to take to repair it. Heritage Sustainable Energy has been operating 14 wind . . .
  • Anti turbine group frustrated with county commissioners
    A representative from a local citizens group that is opposed to the siting of proposed wind turbines by DTE Energy in the northwestern part of Branch County expressed her frustrations to the Branch County Board of Commissioners Tuesday about the lack of movement to update the county’s Master Plan and the pursuit of a moratorium on special use permits. Pam Reed from Concerned Citizens of Branch County felt commissioners were giving her group silence after they made a recent presentation. . . .
  • Editorial: Voters blow back on windmills
    Environmental activists and some Democratic elected officials are pushing for an immediate shutdown of Line 5, the pipeline that carries petroleum products across the Straits of Mackinac. Many, including Attorney General Dana Nessel, reject the solution crafted by former Gov. Rick Snyder and Enbridge, which operates the pipeline, to bury it in a tunnel deep below the lake bed. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who vowed to shut down Line 5 on the campaign trail, has softened her position since taking office . . .
  • Casnovia Twp. lays out new conditions for wind farm
    The company planning to build a wind farm in Muskegon County now has 30 days to review new conditions attached to the special land use permit approved last month. The Casnovia Township Board laid out 32 conditions for American Electric Power during a meeting Monday night. The company must now review and accept the conditions or take the township to court over its original permit proposal. The project’s current plan calls for 31 turbines within the township’s 36 square miles, . . .
  • Voters say ‘no’ to wind
    L’ANSE TOWNSHIP – Voters defeated a L’Anse Township referendum to amend its zoning ordinance to allow wind energy projects on commercial forest land. The no vote garnered 315 residents (55 percent), while only 257 (45 percent) voted in favor of the amendment. The no vote overturns a zoning change passed by the L’Anse Township board in October to allow such developments. The vote comes a month after developer Renewable Energy Resources (RES) pulled out of a planned project for 49 wind . . .
  • Controversial vote costs township supervisor his job
    A controversial vote cost a Mid-Michigan township supervisor his job during a recall in May’s election. That vote involved wind farms and whether the township should put a stop them. A group of residents did not like the supervisor’s position and succeeded in removing him from office. “I was pleased. I was actually quite shocked to see the margin,” said Samuel Davidson, incoming supervisor for Kawkawlin Township in Bay County. Davidson will be the new township supervisor once the votes . . .
  • Turbine rules headed to ballot without board say
    ROGERS CITY – Voters in some portions of Presque Isle County will get to decide on Aug. 6 whether the county should keep its controversial ordinance that deals with wind turbines and solar energy. The ordinance adopted by the county Board of Commissioners in October established setbacks and height restrictions for industrial wind turbines, in addition to requirements pertaining to visual, lighting and power lines, that were not addressed in the previous ordinance. However, Moltke Township residents Mike and Stefani Schulte . . .
  • Wind farm proposed for Muskegon/Kent counties border gets key approval
    CASNOVIA TOWNSHIP, MI – A proposed wind farm project at the border of Muskegon and Kent counties has moved closer to reality. Casnovia Township’s approval of a special use permit was an important first step to move the project forward, but the approval came with several stipulations for the Ohio-based American Electric Power. Site plans for the project also need to be approved before the company can construct the sprawling wind farm. Several residents and township officials have been outspoken . . .
  • Wind blows both ways at forum
    L’ANSE – At the end of Tuesday’s meeting of Services And Vibrant Economy (SAVE) for Baraga County, questions on cards from anonymous attendees were collected from the audience. The first card, read by meeting facilitator Mike Roberts, asked how much of the Upper Peninsula’s electricity is coming from renewable sources. Steve Waller, the Northern Michigan University adjunct instructor who gave the first presentation, said he did not have the numbers for the UP readily available, but across the state it was . . .
  • Residents want place to stay as is
    I’m sure that Renewable Energy Systems, the company that wanted to develop an industrial-scale wind farm in eastern Baraga County, is disappointed because it needed to cancel that project, but large numbers of local residents are not. About 30 years ago this area had a bad experience with a company proposing a paper mill on Keweenaw Bay. While many of the local powers that be were enthusiastic, ultimately the public didn’t want it, and, as with RES and the Summit . . .