GARDEN – The possibility of a wind energy farm on the Garden Peninsula is being explored, but the project may be far in the future, according to officials.
Fairbanks Township Supervisor Ron Collins said Heritage Sustainable Energy, Traverse City, has shown interest in creating a sustainable energy wind farm in the area.
“They (Heritage) had their representatives in the area last year trying to sign up landowners (to lease out their land) for a potential wind farm,” said Collins. “They’d have to have a certain amount of land to even begin the project.”
Delta County Building and Zoning Department Administrator Tom Carviou said the potential wind farm may fall under federal jurisdiction.
“I called all the way to Washington, D.C., to talk to the head of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and they are calling it a public utility,” said Carviou. “And any kind of energy other than what we’re using now – wind, solar, (ect.) – is being promoted firmly by the feds. So it may fall under their jurisdiction.”
Carviou said the company has a test tower in place to determine whether there is enough wind to create cost-effective power.
“Right now they have test towers which will be moved around out there for approximately three to four years to check whether it is even feasible,” said Carviou. “Then we are all going to have to know at that point who’s in charge and who has jurisdiction and who does the permitting and such.”
Collins said there are other feasibility issues the company or companies interested in wind power on the Garden Peninsula have to consider.
“There are several other things they’ll need to explore, like how to get the power out of here,” said Collins. “They think the area has potential, but there’s a few years of data gathering necessary before they’d make any decision.”
A meeting on the possibility of wind energy farm is being organized by a local resident.
Gordon Smith, Garden, said the informational meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Fairbanks Township Hall, is to explore whether or not the new technology would be in the best interest of the community.
“One of the things we’ve heard that really concerns us is that these things don’t put out enough energy to get rid of any coal-burning plants and that they have to stay open anyway because the wind is not constant,” Smith said.
Smith said another concern is that the windmills could kill birds and could be a noise problem. “We understand these things are about 400 feet tall with 200-foot blades, and we’re told they make a lot of noise,” said Smith. “The Garden Peninsula has lots of flocks of geese and swans and other birds, and we’re worried about what it might do to them also.”
Smith said he has invited representatives from companies considering the area for wind farm development to the meeting.
By Audrey LaFave
8 February 2008
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