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Sherman Township officials give green light to wind developer

Sherman Township residents packed township hall to learn about the future of wind power generation in their community.

The Sherman Township Planning and Zoning Commission conducted the public hearing in relation to a special land use permit application from the Traverse City-based Heritage Sustainable Energy. The application requested permission to install a 164-foot meteorological tower for the purpose of measuring wind speeds. Heritage was given the go-ahead to install the tower after more than an hour of public discussion.

The company has operated a similar tower in Missaukee County’s Richland Township for the past two years.

“Nobody can predict what the wind speeds would be, so we’re trying to measure throughout this high plateau,” said Rick Wilson, Heritage project manager.

The area of interest also includes Highland Township and Clam Lake Township in Wexford County.

The new test tower will be located at 140th Avenue and 23 Mile Road on a 320-acre parcel owned by Dru Dierich.

“Before we did it we did a lot of research on the issue,” Dierich said. “We like the idea of alternative energy for Michigan.”

While Dierich said she welcomes whatever income the agreement with Heritage might produce, the primary motivation is to promote the clean power source.

“We can’t do solar in Michigan,” she said “Wind we have.”

The commission granted Heritage permission to place the Sherman Township test tower for a period of up to five years. Considered a temporary structure, it will be erected on a platform secured with guide wires. A computer unit attached to the tower measures temperature, wind speed and barometric pressure.

If all conditions prove favorable, Heritage will proceed with development of a wind farm in the area. Development would demand acquiring land leases from a number of contiguous properties, Wilson said. Ideally, the company would obtain between 40 and 60 acres for every commercial turbine installed.

Growth of wind power generation around the globe has exceeded production capacities, according to Wilson, and there is a two-year or longer waiting period for delivery. Each turbine costs between $2 million and $3 million and produces enough energy for 700 to 800 homes for one year.

Company plans call for installing one of the commercial turbines in Richland Township in 2007.

The public is invited to contact a township representative or attend a meeting to offer input. The commission meets at 7:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month at the Sherman Township Hall.

Your local connection

# Issue: Special land use permit to allow installation of wind speed test tower

# Tower location: 140th Avenue and 23 Mile Road, Sherman Twp.

# Applicant: Heritage Sustainable Energy of Traverse City

# Permit approved by: Sherman Township Planning and Zoning Commission

# Permit period: Tower may remain in place for up to 5 years

# Company’s long-term goal: To establish a wind farm for generation of commercial power

By Sally Barber, Cadillac News