HURON COUNTY – DTE Energy says a decision has not been made on whether it will build the remainder of a 58-turbine project planned for Colfax and Chandler townships – another factor hinting at a shift in wind development in Huron County.
In a May 5 referendum, 60 percent of Meade Township voters decided they didn’t want to see 48 wind turbines built in their township as part of DTE’s Meade Wind Park. Six turbines were planned for Colfax and four in Chandler.
“Although we continue to evaluate the potential for siting turbines in Colfax as well as other townships adjacent to Meade Township, we’re not limiting our options to Huron County,” said Vanessa Waters, DTE media relations strategist.
The Meade vote – combined with a moratorium prohibiting new projects and a draft of stricter wind energy regulations the county is reviewing, which some say could zone turbines out of the county – has developers eyeing other counties.
“As a result, we’re exploring different sites outside Huron County,” DTE spokesperson Scott Simons said after the Meade vote.
Which wasn’t exactly a notion Colfax Township wanted to see, according to Supervisor David Howard.
Things were quiet in Colfax last October, when Howard said there was no response from residents toward turbine plans and officials were consulting with Spicer Engineering while waiting for DTE’s plans to roll out.
Adding to a potential shift is the fact that at least one developer has had to compromise to keep its project.
Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy said it cut 30 turbines from a project planned for Winsor and McKinley townships – due to concerns from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, residents and wildlife advocates and Huron County Board Chair John Nugent, who all have strongly opposed putting turbines within three miles of shorelines. Geronimo now plans for turbines on a smaller, 285-foot tower, with the rotor diameter covering about 50 more feet.
Other developers, like Consumers Energy and Florida-based NextEra Energy, have thousands of acres leased but have not announced plans.
DTE owns or operates the majority of the 328 turbines currently turning in Huron County. Officials have given approval to more than 100 more, while NextEra has applied for a variance under the moratorium, which took effect May 1, to add 15 turbines to its Big Turtle Wind Farm in Rubicon Township.
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