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Wind farm plans move east; Opponents organize in Marshall and Fulton Counties

NextEra’s plans call for as many as 70 wind turbines, and as few as 40. Two thirds of the units would be in Marshall County and one third would be in Fulton County.

2013 is now the target date to start building a wind farm in Marshall and Fulton Counties.

Florida based NextEra Energy continues to talk about—and fine tune the $180 million project.

“We shifted our project boundary about two miles further east and that’s away from Lake Maxinkuckee, which is a lake near the Town of Culver,” said NextEra Project Manager Paul Dockery, a 2006 Graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

The project now has something it didn’t have earlier this year—organized opposition. Much of the dissatisfaction appears to come from the area around Lake Maxinkuckee.

“There’s over 1,000 or more petitions that have been signed in opposition to the wind turbines in southern Marshall and northern Fulton Counties,” said Dick Swennumson.

Swennumson is a sailor who has been known to take advantage of the wind himself from time to time, but he and others feel that making a wind farm part of the scenery around Lake Maxinkuckee would be like building turbines near a national park.

“And these towers are 450-foot high, 450-feet high, you can see them for over 10 miles,” said Swennumson.

NextEra has produced a scale drawing that purports to show that the turbines would blend in, not stand out like a sore thumb. “You can see them on the horizon but they’re fairly small,” said Dockery.

In addition to sight line issues, there is also some disagreement on the noise associated with wind turbines.

“These towers spring at 150-miles an hour and in succession they create friction in the ground and a hum, a low frequency hum that can be harmful to selected individuals as well as livestock, it’s been documented that the cows give less milk,” said Swennumson.

Dockery has some noise studies of his own. “So it’s a mechanical device that does make sound but it’s not different from a car driving down the road or the wind whistling through trees in its impact on public safety and health.”

Dockery today had a chance to put his spin on things as he spoke to members of the Plymouth Rotary.

It was a sign that the project continues to move forward at its own pace. “And we think probably 2013 is a time frame where we’ll be able to market the power to some customer and get it constructed,” said Dockery.

NextEra’s plans call for as many as 70 wind turbines, and as few as 40. Two thirds of the units would be in Marshall County and one third would be in Fulton County.

Over the next 30 years, the project would produce an estimated $22 million in property taxes, and provide some $23 million in lease payments to farmers for the use of their land.

Eventually, NextEra will have to seek a local permit for the project. That process is on track to start about a year from now, although Swennumson will work to prevent it and believe it when he sees it. “These projects are not economically viable without federal taxpayer subsidies,” said Swennumson. “The federal government already is trillions of dollars in debt and so this just adds to it with our future payments to subsidize these projects.”