HURON COUNTY – DTE Energy is taking to the phones, surveying about 400 residents to inquire their impression of wind energy and renewables in Huron County.
“We want people’s honest impressions. That’s why we’re calling,” said Matt Wagner, DTE wind site development manager. “Clearly, wind energy and renewable energy is relevant in Huron County.”
It’s a time when county leaders expect to decide in the coming week, after a months-long effort, whether to impose a moratorium putting a stop to wind development for up to six months. In Meade Township, DTE’s plan for close to 50 turbines faces a referendum vote in May. Two other projects – a combined 125 turbines – have gotten the go-ahead. Other developers have land leased throughout the county.
According to DTE, customers in townships and cities began receiving calls in January for the survey. Though DTE did not release specific questions, Wagner said people are being asked if they recognize DTE’s name and the presence of turbines in the county – and what responders feel is important in terms of wind developers’ contribution toward tax revenues and education.
“What’s making a difference in the community? What’s having an impact?” Wagner said. “It seems like an obvious question, but for some people, it’s really not on the front burner.”
One resident told the Tribune that during a call, an interviewer said the survey would take about eight minutes and asked simple and multiple choice questions on opinions of wind energy, while stating its benefits.
Wagner says results of the survey, which is not limited solely to wind energy, haven’t been gathered yet, but will help answer “Is what we’re doing working?” and gather reactions to DTE wind projects.
“We truly believe we’re a guest on their land,” he said. “We’re always striving to do the right thing for the landowners and community.”
Wagner said the survey was not motivated by Gov. Rick Snyder’s special message on energy earlier this month, in which Snyder said 19 percent of the state’s energy goal for 2025 should come from renewables. And “the timing is just coincidental with the moratorium,” he said.
Many residents have posed their own questions to DTE officials at local meetings in regard to wind energy. Most recently, a reader asked if energy produced by Huron County turbines stays in the county or is transferred elsewhere.
“Some stays in the Thumb, some moves out,” Wagner said. “A fairly substantial amount goes to Port Huron, Detroit (and other places).”
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