OLIVER TOWNSHIP – The township planning commission Thursday voted to approve a special use permit for a utility grid wind energy system in its agricultural preservation zoning district.
Brian Crawford of RMT, Inc. of Grand Rapids spoke on behalf of Michigan Wind LLC during the planning commission’s public hearing regarding the development of a project which may lead to the installation of 27 wind turbines in Oliver Township. Michigan Wind also has developed a project which may lead to the installation of five turbines in neighboring Chandler Township.
“The area is a prime (location) for wind energy development,” Crawford said. “This (Huron County) is one of the better areas in the state for hosting wind energy.”
Construction of the turbines will not begin until the company receives go ahead from the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) to connect to the national grid system and from township, county and state officials.
MISO studies the electrical system’s carrying capacity, so as not to overload the system which causes blackouts.
“We think things look favorable or we wouldn’t be moving forward,” Crawford said.
The company has to go through a series of steps at the township and county level before proceeding with the project.
“Zoning is just one part of the planning process,” said Russ Lundberg, Huron County Building and Zoning director. “If the zoning is approved, it (the project) is not necessarily a go, other pieces of the puzzle need to fall into place.”
Last month, the Chandler Township board approved and adopted regulations in its zoning ordinance relating to a wind energy facility, and the township zoning board approved a recommendation to the township board regarding a wind energy facility overlay map amendment.
The Oliver Township board Thursday also agreed to a conditional approval of the company’s site plan. The board will review other material submitted by RMT on behalf of Michigan Wind as it becomes available.
In Chandler Township, the proposed turbines are expected to be constructed along Berne Road from Gagetown Road to Herford Road. The proposed sites for the wind turbines in Oliver Township are to be accessed from Gagetown Road, Berne Road, Richardson Road, Maxwell Road and Farver Road.
Each turbine will stand approximately 400 feet tall with a blade length of about 120 feet, Crawford said. The electricity generated from each turbine is created approximately 270 feet from the ground.
Each turbine will be constructed on an access road for maintenance purposes, Crawford said.
Michigan Wind is among five companies looking at wind energy solutions in Huron County, Lundberg said. The company has been measuring wind speed and patterns in the area for at least one year, he noted.
Lundberg said the project is important for Huron County because of its dual benefits.
“It’s a two-fold benefit,” Lundberg said. “It preserves agricultural land use patterns into the future and discourages non-agricultural development. It also creates an economic atmosphere in the county that we desperately need. This is an incentive for other development. This is just an excellent project.” Look for updates about this story in future editions of the Huron Daily Tribune.
By Megan Frounfelter, The Huron Daily Tribune
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