ADRIAN – Wind testing is to begin soon in the south of Lenawee County, thanks to a $20,000 contribution approved Friday by Lenawee County commissioners.
A motion to spend the money for wind power testing passed by an 8-0 vote after more than an hour of discussion with alternative energy consultant David Munson and members of the county’s agricultural advisory committee. The committee asked for $20,000 from the county treasury to pay for setting up a single tower to monitor wind for one year. Private investors are to come up with money to establish a second test site approximately three months later.
An opportunity came up to acquire a monitoring tower immediately for a one-year test at a low cost, Munson told the commission. He also said it is important to move quickly on a wind power project so that small, local investors will have an opportunity to become involved.
Committee member and former county commissioner Larry Gould said Lenawee County is fortunate that major electric transmission lines are near enough for wind generation facilities here to easily connect to the power grid. Data confirming there is commercially viable wind power is the missing ingredient.
“If we get it started and prove that we have the wind we need I don’t think we’ll have any problem attracting developers,” said commissioner John Tuckerman, R-Blissfield, who serves on the agriculture committee.
Having the county government involved in collecting data for a feasibility study will help allow a local, private enterprise to organize and develop a project, Munson said, similar to the ethanol plant in Blissfield that grew from a county government study.
“We’re trying to make sure the first wind power project is open to public investment,” Munson said.
Commissioner Jason MacKay, D-Madison Twp., gave the proposal an enthusiastic endorsement.
“It’s a great opportunity investment-wise. It’s a great opportunity development-wise. And most importantly, it’s a great opportunity for Lenawee County to be a leader in the state,” MacKay said.
The only cautionary comments came from commissioner Rob Hall, R-Hudson, who questioned a potential commitment to fund an unlimited number of wind studies across the county.
“What are we going to do in the future? Do we believe in this so much that we’re going to continue it in other parts of the county, or is this it?” Hall asked.
Munson said he believes the results of the testing to be done over the next year will determine what areas to explore next and that private money will be available to carry on wind power development.
“If we’re successful with one it will be easier to get them in other parts of the county,” he said.
The two test towers the committee plans to have put up will be located in the southeast area between Blissfield and Seneca where existing data shows the greatest potential for wind as well as potential connections to major electric transmission lines.
“We’re starting with a place we know would work,” Munson said.
Developing a business venture with local investors can reduce potential conflicts between property owners over where to locate wind turbines, Gould said, by allowing everyone to profit rather than only those who have turbines on their land.
The county government will see a return on its $20,000 investment if generating facilities are developed and produce new property tax revenue and economic development, Tuckerman said.
By Dennis Pelham
Daily Telegram Staff Writer
21 December 2007
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