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MSU working to help local officials set wind energy policy

As interest in generating wind energy increases across Michigan, so does the need for local officials to establish policies for windmill siting. In response, the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute and MSU Extension have released a new bulletin on land use guidelines for installing wind energy systems.

“Michigan Land Use Guidelines for Siting Wind Energy Systems” (bulletin WO1053) is intended to help local leaders understand the wind energy system siting guidelines released by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth’s Michigan Energy Office late in 2005. It also explains the science behind the guidelines, offers a glossary and resources, and lists Michigan communities that have adopted planning and zoning laws related to wind system siting.

A program is also available to local leaders in any Michigan county or region who are interested in more information on this renewable energy option.

Increasing public interest in renewable energy of all kinds and the publication of new wind potential maps for Michigan in 2004 have moved planning and zoning for wind power into the spotlight. Wind power companies are working with landowners to develop new sites, but landowners seeking permits are discovering that the rules governing wind energy are unclear.

Mike Klepinger, MSU Extension specialist with the LPI, works with local leaders to improve the siting of wind energy facilities in the state. Klepinger said one of the reasons for the slow development of renewable energy in Michigan is the lack of information available to local decision makers about land use issues. In the case of wind energy, issues include shadow flicker, noise, falling ice hazards, property line setbacks and bird kills.

“I hope this information will be useful to local officials, who are faced with difficult scientific questions when deciding wind turbine siting approvals,” Klepinger said. “This is really new in our state. There are more than 1,800 local decision-making entities in Michigan. Currently, about two dozen have laws on the books about wind energy.”

Many more local planning and zoning officials are considering writing rules. The newly released guidelines from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth will help decision makers write them, as well as deal with the “NIMBY” syndrome (“not in my backyard”). The Extension bulletin provides decision makers with the science behind the issues.

“Michigan Land Use Guidelines for Siting Wind Energy Systems” is available free online at www.emdc.msue.msu.edu/inventorysearch.cfm or from any MSU Extension county office.

For more information about hosting a local wind energy policy information meeting, contact the LPI at 517-432-8800.

The mission of the MSU Land Policy Institute is to help deliver a better quality of life in Michigan through effective science-based solutions, helping to strengthen the state’s economy, and better protecting our environment in ways that are fair for all. For more information on the MSU Land Policy Institute, visit www.landpolicy.msu.edu.


1 May 2007