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FAA report questions 63 proposed wind turbine sites

A recent Federal Aviation Administration ruling could prove a serious obstacle to wind energy development in the Blissfield area. A study by the FAA found that 63 wind turbine sites proposed by developer Juwi Wind are “presumed hazards” due to their proximity to Toledo Express Airport.

An Oct. 21 letter from FAA representative Michael Blaich to Juwi reads, “Initial findings of this study indicate that the structure as described exceeds obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities.”

The letter goes on to ask that the wind turbine height be reduced to 354 feet above ground level – 138 feet shorter than the Vestas V100 turbines Juwi and other developers seek to erect in the area.

In order to receive approval for the wind turbine sites, Juwi must submit a resolution to the issue within 60 days of Oct. 21.

Juwi representative Aaron Peterson says the company is still evaluating the decision and discussing its options with the FAA.

The FAA’s ruling also has implications for the project proposed by Blissfield Wind Energy, a partnership between commercial developer Exelon Wind and local firm Great Lakes Wind. BWE had announced plans to purchase leases from Juwi and developer Orisol if construction were possible. This would give BWE control over the entire wind energy installation, allowing the developer to make guarantees about the number and location of wind turbines.

“We remain committed that we will have the proper permits from the FAA before we build any turbines,” said Exelon Wind project manager Doug Duimering.

Duimering declined to comment further, saying Exelon is still analyzing the FAA findings.

Copyright 2011 River Raisin Publications, Inc. For James McClenathen’s complete story, please see the Nov. 9, 2011, edition of The Advance.