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Second developer dumps wind turbine project

BLISSFIELD – A second developer involved in a wind-turbine project proposed for southern Lenawee County has bailed out.

juwi Wind USA, the Colorado-based domestic subsidiary of a German company, has terminated a study of the 493-foot towers’ potential impact on aviation at Toledo Express Airport, and a company spokesman said Wednesday the reason is that juwi is withdrawing from the area.

“We have terminated the study because we were going to receive a Declaration of Hazard,” said Aaron Peterson, the company’s community relations and regulatory affairs manager. “Because of that and the restrictive zoning in Ogden and Riga townships, we have stopped developing the project.”

The study was undertaken as part of an appeal of the Federal Aviation Administration’s October issuance of a Notice of Presumed Hazard stating that 63 of 80 turbines juwi proposed to be erected in southern Lenawee County were within a 13-nautical-mile radius of Toledo Express and would, if built, intrude into protected air space.

Mr. Peterson’s statement indicated an expectation that the FAA would deny the appeal. The FAA confirmed that the studies for 63 wind turbines had been voluntarily canceled by juwi Wind but did not elaborate.

Last month, Consumers Energy filed regulatory documents seeking regulatory permission to amend a power-purchase agreement with Blissfield Wind, a joint venture of Exelon Wind and Great Lakes Wind LLC to allow the latter to build turbines in two counties north and northwest of Lansing instead of Lenawee.

A spokesman for Exelon Power, Exelon Wind’s corporate parent, said township zoning regulations “effectively precluded development” of the 45 turbines Blissfield Wind had proposed.

Riga last year adopted property-line setback and noise rules that the wind developers contended would make their projects unworkable. Ogden, which has no zoning, imposed a wind-farm moratorium while its officials considered similar rules for wind turbines.

Joshua Nolan, a director of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, a group that opposed the wind project as proposed, said the “news that air travelers and local residents will be safe from the dangers of improperly sited industrial wind turbines” was welcomed.

“However, we must express our frustration at the needless harm that was imposed upon the region’s social fabric by this divisive issue,” Mr. Nolan said. “Neighbors, even family members, no longer speak to each other as a result of their disagreement about a wind-turbine project that could never have been built in the first place.”

The turbine controversy – pitting residents eager to cash in on turbine-site leases against those wary of noise and “shadow flicker” from spinning turbine blades – led to recall elections that unseated Ogden Township Supervisor James Goetz and Clerk Phyliss Gentz. Jefferee Simon, the Riga Township supervisor, narrowly survived a recall vote.