Holland, MI – Rules for regulating offshore wind farms likely will blow over to next year.
State Sen. Patty Birkholz of Saugatuck has been working on the legislation for the past year, but says the legislature didn’t have time to act on it during its lame duck session, which concluded this week.
The bill sets in place a process for approving, managing and decommissioning wind turbines in the Great Lakes.
“It’s well-structured and poised to move in the next term,” Birkholz said. “The question is: Will there be the ability to have it happen next year? Because half the House will be new and two-thirds of the Senate will be new.”
Business leaders, including Kelly Slikkers of Energtx in Holland, testified in favor of the legislation before the House Energy and Technology Committee on Tuesday.
“We have business people who are poised to begin work in this area, but they’re also looking at other states,” Birkholz said. “It’s a way to grow manufacturing – not only wind but also spin-offs on advanced auto manufacturing and processes for defense contractors.”
The bill, introduced in the House in November by Rep. Dan Scripps, would require approval from each county within six miles of the proposed wind farm site. Wind farms would have to be at least three miles from shore, according to the bill.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Energy would control much of the wind farm regulations. MDNRE officials would map areas that can’t support wind farms because of factors such as the environment or military.
One company, Scandia Wind Offshore, proposed a large wind farm near Ludington in 2009. But the public spoke out against it and county governments listened. Both Oceana and Mason county boards opposed it.
Scandia also was met with skepticism in Muskegon and Grand Haven.
Like Energetx and many West Michigan officials, Scandia is waiting to see what happens to this legislation – and it might be a while.
“I’m not giving up yet, but it looks less and less doable (for this year),” Birkholz said.
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