A third wind farm may be sprouting in Sanilac County soon.
But plans have yet to officially planted.
Invenergy of Chicago has been collecting property easements since 2004 in Argyle, Lamotte and Moore townships for the purpose of building a wind farm.
Invenergy plans to spread its wind turbines across 25,000 acres of private land. The number of wind turbines planned and the construction time line has not yet been determined, according to a press release from Invenergy.
The project will produce 10 permanent operating jobs and 100 construction jobs.
George Lasecki, Moore Township zoning administrator, said the township still has a ways to go before work can begin.
“An ordinance allowing or not allowing wind turbines doesn’t even exist for our township currently,” Lasecki said. “We are still researching the ordinance, we have to finish writing it, and then it will have to be approved.”
Lasecki said Invenergy has been acquiring land in the county for the past decade. He said if no ordinance exists, though, then the company can’t move forward.
“It’s all tight-lipped right now,” he said. “We don’t know even know where the parcels of land that the turbines would be built on are located. Right now we are just working on the ordinance.”
In Argyle Township, the process is the same.
“Right now we are working on a wind turbine ordinance, since we don’t have one,” said Edward Pfaff, Argyle Township clerk. “The company has told us a fair amount of property owners signed up in the township, but I don’t know who or where the parcels would be.”
Carolyn Martin, 47, of Moore Township, said she wouldn’t mind the wind farms.
“I’ve seen the other wind farms around the county, and I don’t mind them,” she said. “I wouldn’t care if they came either way.”
Within Sanilac County, two wind farms already have populated Delaware, Marion and Minden townships with more than 70 wind turbines.
Exelon Corp. owns one farm, and DTE Energy owns the second.
“In 2010 was when we first started doing the permitting and working with Exelon. A year later DTE came,” said Terry O’Connor, Minden Township supervisor. “In 2012, final construction wrapped up, so we’ve had them for a few years, but we do get some complaints.”
O’Connor said the main complaints are that the windmills are too noisy or cause shadow flickering.
“During the day when the sun hits a certain spot, the turbines will cause shadow flickering on some houses,” he said. “But the company is very accommodating. For those specific residents that complain, they come out and set it so that the wind turbine shuts off for a few minutes during the day when the shadow flickering would happen.”
O’Connor said for noisy turbines the companies have installed low-noise mode software. They can slow down the turbine or turn the pitch of the blade to try to reduce the noise level.
“For some people, the wind turbines are an intrusion,” O’Connor said. “Some people have moved to our area to get the peace and quiet that a rural community offers, and the turbines take away from that. Our township is definitely not like it used to be, and that’s a problem. But change is constant, and we try to make it work.”
Marion Township Supervisor Arnold McVittie said the response in Marion Township has been mostly positive.
“At first people didn’t like the looks of the wind turbines, but pretty soon you don’t even know they are there,” McVittie said.
O’Connor said there are financial benefits to wind farms.
“For us, the tax revenue was a big plus,” he said. “Minden Township was the lowest valued township in the county, and the wind turbines increased our taxable value.”
O’Connor said the taxable value for Minden Township increased from $18 million to $71 million in the first year.
Minden Township has about 25 wind turbines.
“The taxable value decreases over time as the value of the wind turbines depreciate, though,” O’Connor said. “Last year, our taxable value dropped to $61 million. It will continue to drop until it plateaus, but even once it hits its leveling point, it will still provide us with more taxable value than before we had the wind turbines.”
O’Connor said the property owners in the township who agreed to have a wind turbine built on their property also receive money.
“Land owners with wind turbines on their property get a yearly payment from the companies,” he said. “But they give up certain freedoms in exchange. The wind turbine takes up about half an acre of their land that they could use to farm, and they also have to have access roads on their property now for workers to access the turbines.”
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