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Developers considering windy Lake Michigan as power source  

Wind turbines could soon tower above the Kenosha skyline, but not on land.

They’d be stretching skyward out of Lake Michigan.

According to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials, three developers have expressed interest in building hundreds of the turbines offshore, including more than 600 that would stretch from Kewaunee to Kenosha. The developers have concepts but they haven’t submitted formal plans, said Steve Ugoretz, lead wind energy analyst with the Department of Natural Resources.

A plan by Ewindfarm Inc. of California calls for 610 turbines one to two miles from the shore stretching from Kewaunee to Kenosha, according to documents submitted to the DNR.

Representatives from the project met with the DNR and the state’s Office of Energy Independence last summer but haven’t made contact since, Ugoretz said.

Some Kenosha residents said they are curious about the proposal as the spinning towers would have an impact on the local waterscape.

Newly elected County Board Supervisor Rob Zerban, who lives in the HarborPark Condominiums on Kenosha’s lakefront, said he would be interested in seeing the plans.

“I am in favor of renewable energy sources, but there’s also the (impact to the lakefront) that also should be considered,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the proposal because I think that’s what you need to make an educated and informed decision and that’s the most important thing, I think.”

Barry Moreland, owner of Southport Marina, said he wasn’t sure that the turbines would have any real effect on his business.

“If I was in the land development business, then I think it would be a negative impact. As a boating community it would be like any obstacle that you can see and (navigate) around it,” said Moreland, who is currently in the process of evaluating his building for solar panel installation.

The projects are being discussed as a study group of the Public Service Commission, state Department of Natural Resources and the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands looks at offshore generation in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Gov. Jim Doyle’s global warming task force recommended the study.

Giant wind turbines in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior could someday lead to new power for Wisconsin but cost millions of dollars to build and transform serene lake views.

Currently the only proposal under review for offshore turbines is off the coast of Massachusetts in Cape Cod where environmentalists who favor the alternative energy source are waging a battle against the Kennedy family, who have argued that they will have a negative impact on the environment, tourism and those who earn a living fishing.

Energy experts hail wind power as a cheap, clean renewable energy source. Land-based wind power is a growing industry in Wisconsin and across the country.

Germany, Ireland and Denmark have developed offshore wind farms, but none exist in the United States. Proposals for wind farms off Cape Cod, Long Island and Galveston, Texas, have been tied up in debate.

One of the proposals for Lake Michigan, called Radial Wind, calls for 390 turbines about 18 miles east of Milwaukee. But the project is on hold, said William Goldstein, an energy engineer and real estate developer from Northbrook, Ill., because the technology to mount turbines in 200 feet of water hasn’t been fully developed.

The last proposal is from an unidentified developer who approached state officials with initial plans to build “a couple hundred” turbines in an area that would be located “within a few miles of shore” in east-central Wisconsin, Ugoretz said.

By Terry Flores
and the Associated Press

Kenosha News Online

25 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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