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Is the Mason Co. wind farm a safety hazard?

MASON CO. – Construction is underway for Consumers Energy’s $232 million wind farm in Mason County.

The plan is to build 56 turbines that are each 476 feet tall. The energy company says the project will bring both temporary construction jobs and a few permanent jobs to the area.

While wind energy is controversial across Northern Michigan, some residents in the Ludington area say this project actually puts the lives of residents in the community at risk.

That is because they believe several of the wind turbines are going to be built too close to gas lines. Both Michcon and Omimex Energy have either a sour gas line, or sweet gas line in the area. One of the proposed turbines will be built approximately 181 feet from a sour gas line.

Neighbors fear if the turbine falls or if a vibration is sent through the ground, it could either rupture the line and explode, or leak poison.

They’re not alone in their concerns, in a letter from Omimex Energy to Mason County Officials, the company expresses concerns about the pipeline’s proximity to the proposed turbines.

Omimex Energy Operations Manager, Kenneth Prior, writes that Consumers Energy is trying to steamroll through the project, and trying to get pipeline companies to agree to lesser setbacks.

Prior also writes that he feels the turbines will be too close to the company’s gas line.

7&4 News asked a Consumers Energy Spokesman how far away a turbine should be from a gas line to be considered a safe distance, but they would not tell us. The company did say that their top priority is keeping residents safe.

The project will be complete by the end of 2012.