Wind energy developer Blissfield Wind Energy, is pursuing development opportunities in Gratiot and Ionia counties after more than a year spent trying to gain sufficient land and support for the Blissfield Wind Energy project.
BWE, a partnership between Exelon Wind and local firm Great Lakes Wind LLC, has a renewable energy purchase agreement with Consumers Energy, which is seeking to meet state standards for renewable energy production. BWE must begin construction of a wind energy installation in 2012 or suffer stiff fines for breach of contract. In the face of strong local opposition in the Blissfield area, BWE has requested that the contract be amended and the project relocated to Gratiot County or Ionia County, where rural residents have been relatively supportive of wind energy development. The change must be approved by the Michigan Public Service Organization in order for BWE to move the project and meet its deadline.
Members of the anti-wind non-profit organization Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition herald the move as a victory for Riga, Ogden and Palmyra townships, where BWE had sought to build the project. The IICC says the noise and shadow flicker produced by industrial wind turbines pose a health risk to nearby residents. The group also cites studies that claim wind turbines lower the value of neighboring properties. Joshua Nolan is an attorney and member of the IICC.
“We kind of suspected that this was coming based upon the Nov. 8 election results,” says Nolan. “I think we educated the citizens about the potential issues instead of just allowing them to be glossed over. I think we played a significant role in (BWE’s) decision.”
Now, an effort to throw out Palmyra Township’s ordinance, which leaves room for wind energy development, is gaining momentum. The ordinance is up for a referendum in the May 8 election.
For months, BWE had been trying to drum up public support through advertisements, open houses, press releases and a regular presence at township meetings. Since the Nov. 8 election, the developer has gone quiet. Still, BWE denies that it is giving up on the Blissfield Wind Energy project.
“In all respects, it’s a good area for a wind farm,” says Exelon Wind project manager Doug Duimering. “The only issue is the local ordinances. … Exelon is continuing to work on this project.”
Great Lakes Wind chairman Larry Gould says he is confident the firm will one day help usher in wind energy – if not in the Blissfield area, then elsewhere in the county.
“I still think I’m going to live to see a wind energy project in Lenawee County,” says Gould. “I don’t know when, but I don’t think it’ll be too long.”
For the complete story, please see the Jan. 18, 2012, edition of The Advance.
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