BLISSFIELD, Mich. – People on both sides of the Ohio-Michigan state line attended a daylong seminar on wind turbines Saturday at Blissfield Middle School.
The event, “Living in the Grid: Industrial Wind Turbines and You,” was hosted by the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, a newly formed group opposing the location of wind turbines in Riga, Ogden and Fairfield townships in Lenawee County and in northwestern Ohio. Presentations detailed wind turbines’ effects on health and property values.
Joshua Nolan, one of the group’s organizers, said he was pleased with the turnout. Kevon Martis, a former Riga Township planning commission member, said between 175 and 300 people made reservations to attend and he expected about 225 people in the building at various times.
“Some people here favor the wind turbines and others oppose them,” Martis said. “What we are saying is that the current proposed setbacks are not far enough and the sound levels of 40 decibels are too loud.”
Technical and anecdotal information was presented from people who have researched industrial wind energy production. One presentation was made by Dave and Stephanie Hulthen of DeKalb County, Ill., who discussed life in the middle of an industrial wind farm. Their home has 13 wind turbines within one mile of their home – two within 1,400 feet.
While many of the seminar organizers and attendees oppose the wind turbine projects, several others were undecided. One of those was Michael Brown, a member of the Sylvania, Ohio, city council.
“I’m here to learn about the different types of alternative energy,” Brown said. “I haven’t made up my mind and won’t until I get all of the facts.”
The Riga Township Planning Commission is drafting an ordinance to the township’s zoning laws that will cover wind turbines.
The first speaker of the day was Tom Stacy, a wind energy analyst who is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ national energy policy committee. He took issue with the science of wind energy and whether it can accomplish the environmental goals it is tasked with achieving.
He said wind power was not technically sound, economically feasible or environmentally friendly. The electricity generated by wind turbines cannot be stored, he said, and the industry is sustainable only through government subsidies.
Mike Morrin of Richfield Township said the United States is lagging behind the rest of the world in renewable energy production and needs to catch up. He also is on the fence on the feasibility of wind turbines.
Mike McCann, a property appraiser from Chicago, spoke on the effects the wind farms have on property values. Rob Rand, an acoustic engineer from Maine, discussed community noise issues associated with a close proximity to industrial wind turbines.
Tom Esordi, a principal with the law firm of Kitch, Drutchas, Wagner, Valitutti & Sherbrook in Detroit, spoke on legal options available to townships in regulating wind installations.
Nolan told the group it was important to be informed on industrial wind farms. He urged people to stay in contact with local elected officials with questions and concerns.
At the start of the event, a group of people protesting the gathering was moved off the middle school grounds. The group carried signs and stood near the driveway entrance to the middle school for a short time before leaving.
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