HART – Nearly 16 months after the Oceana County Board of Commissioners rejected a proposal for an industrial-scale wind farm on the waters of Lake Michigan, the county’s planning commission released a report that says the entire plan was “not feasible.”
Planning Commission Chairwoman Anne Soles issued a press release Tuesday declaring an in-depth investigation of the Scandia Wind LLC’s proposal for 100-200 offshore wind turbines on the near-shore waters of Lake Michigan off the coast from Ludington to Pentwater found “major flaws.”
The planning commission’s conclusion is that only through local government “vigilance” did the problems of the Scandia plan actual surface. The Oceana County board voted 4-2 Aug. 12, 2010, to reject the Scandia project, as did the Mason County Board of Commissioners earlier that summer.
At issue is whether the construction of proposed concrete wind turbine foundations would generate employment locally for up to 2 million worker hours, as the developer told Oceana County officials. It is technically not feasible for those labor-intensive foundations to be constructed in West Michigan, the planning commission concluded.
Thus, the jobs promised the local community were never really possible, the planners concluded. Even with job creation and local investments from a offshore wind farm, county commissioners in Oceana and Mason concluded the huge wind turbines would, among other things, spoil Lake Michigan views, hurt tourism, devalue lakefront property and ecologically threaten the lake.
“It is not clear whether Scandia just did not do their research or they were not being factual with the commission and the public,” Oceana County Planning Commissioner David Roseman said. “Regardless, it took this local government to make that determination where most others involved overlooked this fundamental flaw.”
The planning commission news release went on to say that Scandia – now involved with Spanish wind developer Gamesa in a land-based wind farm at the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System – still has hopes of reviving its Lake Michigan plans.
The Oceana and Mason county experience shows local control of issues such as offshore wind is important in the face of potential legislation and regulation of offshore wind developments expected from state government, the planning commissioners conclude.
Scandia officials were not immediately available for comment.
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