HART – Oceana County commissioners Thursday afternoon rejected the request by a private offshore wind turbine developer to move forward with extensive studies for a proposed installation off the Lake Michigan shoreline of Pentwater.
On a 4-2 vote, the commissioners ended months of debate in Oceana County, including strong opposition from the Pentwater area.
Chairman Larry VanSickle and commissioners Gerald Malburg, Larry Byl and Denny Powers supported a resolution to ask Scandia developers not to proceed, while commissioners Evelyn Kolbe and Charles Simon opposed the resolution.
Scandia Wind Offshore had asked officials in Oceana and Mason counties to make a determination of whether the visual effects of the wind farm in Lake Michigan were acceptable tradeoffs for the economic development potential of the $4 billion plan Scandia has for West Michigan. Scandia wanted the county board action prior to beginning expensive economic and environmental studies.
Scandia originally proposed a large-scale wind-energy development, much of it based in Lake Michigan. The proposal called for installation of 500-megawatt wind farms off the shorelines of the Pentwater/Ludington areas and Grand Haven area, along with a smaller onshore wind farm on Muskegon County’s wastewater site.
The offshore segment of the proposal generated much interest and concern throughout West Michigan. Many public forums were held since December in Oceana, Muskegon, Mason and Ottawa counties, and many people made passionate pleas, some for and more against, concerning the proposal to install large wind turbines 4 miles off Pentwater and 6 miles off Grand Haven.
Proponents pointed to the need for renewable energy and the potential to create many jobs through a new manufacturing industry. Opponents, including a vocal group based in Pentwater, argued that the proposal threatens the area’s greatest asset, Lake Michigan, along with the connected tourism industry.
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