RIGA TWP., Mich. – One of the companies working on a proposed wind energy project in southeastern Lenawee County told a gathering Tuesday night that it would pay neighbors of parcels with the proposed windmills $1,500 a year.
Great Lakes Wind LLC, based in Lenawee County, and Exelon Wind, a division of Exelon Power of Chicago, are looking to place wind turbines in three Lenawee County townships. Exelon Wind currently operates 36 wind projects in eight states. The 81-megawatt southeast Lenawee County project would produce enough clean electricity to power 20,000 homes, Larry Gould, president of Great Lakes Wind, said in a news release.
To receive the payment, people would have to live within a half-mile of a turbine, according to the news release.
“It doesn’t surprise me that they would do this,” said Josh Van Camp of Ogden Township. “But people should know that if they accept the payment, that might prohibit them from going back on the company for any damages or for health issues.”
Van Camp is heading a recall effort against four Ogden Township board members for their actions or lack of action concerning siting of wind turbines in Ogden Township.
Former Riga Township planning commissioner Kevon Martis declined comment on the offer by Great Lakes Wind. He invited people to come to a Feb. 5 seminar to hear experts talk about the effect the turbines could have on property values.
Martis has been working with a group called Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, which is hosting the daylong public meeting at Blissfield Middle School to discuss wind energy. The seminar runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Van Camp said the seminar will not be a bashing of wind energy proponents. He said the intent is to educate the public on all facets of the project, both pro and con.
Van Camp said the Ogden Township board has a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, at the township hall. The board will discuss formation of a citizens committee to look into regulating wind turbines in the township, which has no zoning ordinances.
The project companies also said Tuesday that they will remove the turbines at the end of the project’s life.
“We are committed to making sure that after the project ceases operations, we will restore the land to its original state,” said Doug Duimering, project manager for Exelon Wind.
The Riga Township Planning Commission is developing zoning regulations for wind turbines. They are still several months away from making final determinations and are holding public hearings before sending a draft ordinance to the township board for its action.