LAKE TOWNSHIP — Following the defeat of a wind zoning ordinance referendum, DTE officials are re-evaluating the utility’s plans for wind turbine development in Lake Township.
“We’re not pulling up and getting out of there, we’re just stepping back and waiting and seeing,” said DTE Energy Regional Manager Ron Chriss.
The referendum asking residents to approve the adoption of the township’s wind energy zoning ordinance was voted down 207-128 on Tuesday, according to Huron County Clerk Lori S. Neal-Wonsowicz. She said 725 Lake Township residents were registered to vote in Tuesday’s presidential primary, which included the local ballot proposal in Lake Township.
Chriss said DTE Energy is disappointed the vote wasn’t in favor of the new wind ordinance. He noted there were many good people working very hard to create that ordinance and have it adopted.
He did not know when DTE Energy will make a decision as it re-evaluates its plans in Lake Township. He noted the utility wasn’t planning on any development this year, and the earliest that work would have begun would be in 2013.
“So we’ll wait, see if something else happens in that township,” Chriss said.
Chriss said he did not know how many landowners have signed lease agreements with DTE Energy. However, he noted, DTE Energy has 4,600 acres under lease in Lake Township.
He said the township has very valuable land as far as wind development is concerned, but the possibility of development is limited because there’s no wind energy zoning ordinance, so companies can’t construct wind farms.
For now, those who have signed agreements with DTE Energy are locked in until the agreements come up for renewal, Chriss said. He believes the company intends to renew them even though it’s going to step back and re-evaluate its plans for the township.
In the meantime, DTE Energy is pursuing developments in other portions of the Thumb.
“I know we’re very excited and currently progressing at a nice rate at the three builds in the region — two in Huron and one in Sanilac,” Chriss said, in reference to the Minden, Sigel and McKinley wind farms.
Together, the three projects will generate about 110 megawatts of electricity, and will be set on nearly 15,000 acres in Bloomfield, Sigel and McKinley townships in Huron County and Minden and Delaware townships in Sanilac County.
The three wind farms, which will consist of 69 wind turbines, represent an investment of about $250 million.