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Wind farm finds township approval

A wind power developer is one step closer to building wind turbines in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, as two local approvals for the project have been secured. A conditional use permit application submitted on behalf of wind energy developer Element Power was accepted in late February by the Marquette Township board, and Tuesday, March 22, by the Rudyard Township planning commission. The company’s comprehensive plans were found to be in accordance with the windmill ordinances each municipality had developed last year.

“The plan met all the criteria as far as setbacks, participating and nonparticipating properties, and placement of transmission lines,” said Rudyard Township clerk Bruce Berkompas.

Setback requirements require the turbines to be 1,320 feet from nonparticipating properties, while there are no setbacks for participating properties. There is also a buffer zone around the center of town.

This approved plan provides the developer with the green light to construct wind turbines within the townships, which could happen as soon as a buyer for the power is determined and a transmission line upgrade is completed. Marquette Township will require an additional building permit for each turbine, said Township Supervisor John Kronemeyer. Rudyard may not have such restrictions, Mr. Berkompas said, although a building permit for the entire project may be needed at the county level.

Plans for the Rudyard location could yield up to 38 wind turbines, while plans in Marquette Township could produce up to 40. The wind developer has targeted properties southeast of town on both sides of I-75 between 18-Mile Road and 24-mile Road in Rudyard and properties east of Bay Road, going south to Simmons and Poglese Roads in Marquette Township.

Officials with Element Power told each municipality that investments in construction, infrastructure, and operation could exceed $250 million.