BAD AXE – County planners on Wednesday reviewed a wind project that could be jeopardized if commissioners approve an at least six-month stop on wind energy development.
Colorado-headquartered RES Americas has plans for 72 turbines in its Deerfield Wind Farm, spanning about 24,380 acres in four townships in north and northeastern Huron County. Thirty-five turbines are planned for Dwight Township, 25 for Huron Township, 11 in Bloomfield and one in Lincoln.
Before deciding whether the developer’s plans meet zoning requirements, County Planning Chair Clark Brock excused himself from the room, stating he owns 2.5 acres of land leased for the project.
The remaining seven county planners had in hand at Wednesday’s meeting in the Huron County District Courtroom a partial site plan. Project areas were deemed suitable for wind development in 2011, but a site plan had yet to be submitted until recently.
After asking a few questions, planners agreed to wait for more information before the developer begins construction, which is expected to start this year. Planners say they may call a special meeting Feb. 19 for further review.
Member Mary Babcock noted an important part of the plan that was missing – decommissioning bonding plans for when turbines reach the end of their lives.
Sean Flannery of RES Americas said the developer has listened closely to the county’s recent concerns for siting wind turbines. Flannery said turbines and access roads are plotted on property lines, the project will limit effects on agriculture and turbines will not be placed within three miles of the Lake Huron shoreline.
“We are committed to the three-mile setback,” Flannery said, adding that the closest turbine would be just outside the three-mile mark.
Wolverine Power Supply will be the power purchaser for the project. Flannery said the developer is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Federal Aviation Administration and the Huron County Road Commission for permits.
The project has 220 landowners participating and every landowner within 2,100 feet of a turbine will receive payments, even those with or without turbines, according to Development Manager Brad Lila.
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