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Let's hear the whole story on offshore wind

We are just not getting the “whole story” on offshore wind for Lake Michigan. The report on “offshore wind turbine visibility” (June 8) by a Grand Valley State University scientist gives readers a 6-mile distance perspective. However, the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council, in its final report in October removed a six-mile buffer recommendation. GLOW decided on a water depth limit of 45 meters or less. All locations off our West Michigan coastline are much deeper than 45 meters at six miles.

If the only current possibility for fixed base offshore wind turbine foundations is at 3 miles offshore, why weren’t we told that, and what would the public perception be of view and noise levels then?

Also, the untold costs for offshore wind far exceed the maximum $133 per mwh allowed in our state’s renewable energy source mandate. The U.S. Energy Information Agency has put the levelized cost for offshore wind at $249, much greater than any other energy source.

Cape Wind and Deepwater Wind are both examples of extremely high and unreasonable costs.

How do Muskegon area mayors feel about the $3.7 million put out into the lake via the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center’s floating “tester of wind speeds,” while needs are being neglected in parks and afterschool programs?

Is there a reason why the public needs to “sacrifice” anything for a technology that is by experience in Massachusetts and Rhode Island unreasonably costly to consumers? The largest manufacturer association in Massachusetts (AIM) is suing over unreasonable costs that they would pay for energy. For the majority of “non-wind” manufacturers, would the resulting costs encourage hiring, or firing? Where is the story on that?

And there are surprisingly no comments from Consumers Energy over how much less coal would be burned at any of their coal plants, with a 10 percent wind penetration. “Very little” difference in coal usage and a small amount of natural gas displaced as a result of wind were comments made to me via email. In its 2009 “Balanced Energy Initiative,” Consumer’s Energy stated wind cannot “be considered a feasible and prudent option for replacing or displacing proven reliable baseload generation.” What’s the story behind those comments?

And if those “untold stories” aren’t enough, the biggest one is that in February 2011, Ontario put a two-year moratorium on offshore wind in Lake Ontario, halting all applications. Stating that “there is insufficient science upon which to base regulations that would protect human health and the environment.” At issue are concerns over fresh drinking water quality and the possible toxic chemical risks from massive disruption of the lakebed sediments by wind turbine foundations and cables, especially near shore.

Isn’t that worthy of mention, before we auction off our fresh water lake?

Jane Eggebeen

Grand Haven