Lima Township is the second township in Washtenaw County to advance plans for a study of area wind power.
On Tuesday, the township Planning Commission unanimously recommended that a special use be granted for a 262-foot temporary tower with wind-monitoring equipment. The special use recommendation heads to the township board for consideration at its next board meeting on Jan. 11.
The approval is similar to one granted earlier this month by the Sylvan Township Planning Commission. The Sylvan ordinance to regulate wind energy facilities next heads to the township board for consideration at its meeting on Jan. 8.
Both proposals are part of a county effort to investigate whether electricity-generating wind turbines are feasible in the area.
The townships are being asked initially to approve so-called “monopoles,” which are thin poles the height of a 26-story building. Data collected from gauges on the pole will be analyzed and provided to developers who would decide whether to invest in the more substantial wind turbines – towers with giant blades powered by the wind.
A 40-acre Lima Township parcel, owned by Trent and Barbara Satterthwaite, is one of three potential sites in western Washtenaw that the county is considering as a spot to test the potential for wind-generated power.
Sylvan has two sites under consideration by the county – a farm owned by Reuben Lesser and the Chrysler Proving Grounds.
Tony VanDerworp, the county’s director of planning and environment, said Tuesday night at the Lima Township meeting that the test tower would be erected for up to 18 months to determine whether area winds are suited for different sizes of wind turbines from large commercial grade to smaller residential models.
The study would last 12-18 months and officials hope to get it started this winter. County officials said the project could get started within two weeks of choosing a final site. The county has allocated $68,000 for the monopole and collection of data.
Several members of the audience agreed that looking at more environmentally friendly, local energy sources is something worthwhile.
“I think this is something we should look into, it’s a renewal resource,” said Don Laier, a Lima Township trustee and farmer. “I think it’s a great thing for the farmers in the area.”
Data will be monitored by students at the University of Michigan’s Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, and by a professional meteorologist, who is also a certified solar engineer.
By Lisa Allmendinger
19 December 2007
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