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Officials asking state to slow down on offshore wind turbines

Sanilac County officials are part of an ad hoc group of municipal leaders from across Michigan’s Thumb that is urging the state to go slow on legislation calling for offshore wind turbines in Lake Huron.

“We were not familiar with or notified of the bill,” said Carl Osentoski of Ubly, who launched the Thumb Regional Energy Collaborative Group in summer 2010.

Rep. Dan Scripps, D-Leland, introduced House Bill 6564 at the end of the 2010 legislative term. It proposes installation of electricity-generating offshore wind parks in areas considered best for development, to be leased by private developers.

Osentoski’s group wants to understand the effects that potential wind-energy projects will have on the region, and isn’t enthused about how the legislation was proposed.

“It doesn’t give enough time to react,” said Osentoski, who is executive director of Huron County’s Economic Development Corporation. “Especially with the amount of shoreline Michigan has, we thought community input was necessary.”

The group includes four Sanilac County leaders – Minden Township Supervisor Terry O’Connor and Trustee Donald Kolar, county administrator John Males and county commissioner John Merriman. Officials from Huron and Tuscola counties also are included.

An October 2010 report by the Michigan Great Lakes Wind Council deemed southern Lake Huron near Sanilac County as a priority wind resource area – one of five such areas within the Great Lakes that border Michigan.

The bill asks county boards and planning commissions to determine zoning laws and to conduct hearings at their own expense.

Pickup a copy of Monday’s Times Herald for more.