BAD AXE – Wind turbines would face stiffer regulation under proposed changes to the county’s wind ordinance.
After more than a year of work, a committee drafting the changes is “99.6 percent” done, according to David Peruski, committee chair and county commissioner.
The committee aims to better regulate future wind projects and provide protection for residents. They’ve met weekly to add to and update what some officials say is an outdated and deficient ordinance. Members include county commissioners and planners; the county’s attorney and building and zoning director; and residents.
On Tuesday, Peruski outlined some of the changes. One would extend wind turbine setbacks from residences that don’t participate in wind projects by more than a football field. Another would add a three-mile setback from the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron shorelines. Other measures would put limits on shadow flicker, a phenomenon caused by turbine blades slicing sunlight at a specific time of day.
Peruski said four to five pages have been added to address wind turbine noise. The county agreed to pay more than $20,000 to a Grand Rapids acoustics firm to conduct noise studies last year. Results showed turbine sound levels slightly exceeded allowable limits, but louder traffic noise may have skewed the outcome.
The firm helped the committee draft new rules. They call for all developers to follow the same methodology for taking sound measurements, using a stricter metric.
Issues with shadow flicker also influenced new regulation. At least four residents have filed formal complaints with the county, citing constant shadows cast on the walls of their homes. Peruski said officials also will begin notifying residents if they can be part of a wind district and of their ability to opt out.
The current moratorium on wind energy development for up to six months, which prohibits new wind projects in the majority of Huron County, hinges on the ordinance updates. Officials say the moratorium could be lifted once revisions are completed and approved. Peruski says the planning commission will receive a final copy for review.
|Proposed change||2010 ordinance|
|Three miles from shorelines||Not regulated|
1,640 feet from non-participating residences;
1,340 from property line
|Shadow flicker: max 10 hours/year
for non-participating residences
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding