GILFORD – The first site plans to develop a wind farm in Tuscola County were approved Monday by the Gilford Township Planning Commission.
NextEra Energy LLC plans to build 63 wind turbines in Gilford Township as part of their Tuscola-Bay Wind farm, but only part of that number was approved. The rest of the site plans for turbines in other sections of the township will be done over the next few weeks.
The first area approved for wind development were Sections 28, 29, 30, 31 and 32, which are south of Deckerville Road and north of Van Geisen Road. In that section, the site plan for 12 of the 13 turbines was approved. Construction of turbine number 64 was approved provided it could be moved 30 feet to the east without having to resubmit plans to the FFA (Federal Aviation Administration).
The proposal to move that turbine was suggested by a resident who had concerns that shadow flicker carried over into Bay County even though the turbine met the wind developing zoning guidelines of both Gilford and Merritt townships without relocation.
An analysis of shadow flicker, wind wake, and noise levels was done, and each turbine meets or exceeds the requirements of Gilford’s ordinance.
Tom Factor, who is a wind-farm consultant, explained the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency have been involved with studying health issues and turbine development.
“There have been over 127 studies done and there has been no findings of health issues from wind development,” stated Factor.
And, while shadow flicker from the turbine blades and the sun can’t be avoided, NextEra will work with homeowners to mitigate the problem with tree screenings, awnings, shades or curtains. Plus, they will also work with homeowners on issues of television and communication reception through a complaint resolution process.
The turbines will either be 397 feet or 426 feet tall, and have a cement base about 6-9 feet deep and about 60 feet wide. Because of their height, the turbines will have a red light on top as required by the FAA.
NextEra Energy plans to build seven turbines in Blumfield Township in Saginaw County, and nine in Merritt Township in Bay County. Blumfield Township officials have approved special use permits. However, Merritt Township rejected the site plans. (See related article)
Although some of the turbines have been approved to be built, actual construction won’t start until all of the wind turbines in the three counties in the project have been approved.
The next site plan hearings in Gilford Township will be 5 p.m., Monday for 21 turbines in Sections 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20 and 21 to construction 21 turbines. Then, there will be another hearing 5 p.m., Monday, March 5, to develop 29 turbines and a anemometer in Sections 1, 2, 3, , 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. The meetings will be at the township hall at 6230 W. Gilford Rd.
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