CARO – NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. continues pushing plans forward to install 61 turbines near Caro and Cass City at a part of a new $200 million wind farm – despite citizens’ concerns and unresolved issues in several Tuscola County townships.
The company filed applications March 15 with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for 61 turbines generally near Caro toward the Unionville-Sebewaing area and northeast toward Cass City (see map).
The applications were filed less than 24 hours after video and audio recordings of a March 14, 2016, Almer Township Planning Commission meeting, show a NextEra
representative saying the company couldn’t provide details about specific locations because it was “still working on its plans.”
Almer Township Planning Commission Chairperson Robert Braem asked the NextEra representative directly during the meeting about plans for the area. The question came as the commission was considering different factors in light of possibly amending current wind turbine-related ordinances.
“Do we have any sense of how many turbines?” recordings show Braem asking the NextEra rep.
The unidentified NextEra rep responded by saying, “I don’t know if I can honestly answer that question, where we’re at today. And that’s an honest answer.”
However, less than 24 hours later, the company filed applications for the 61 turbines that would be part of Tuscola III, a wind farm that the company has publicly tagged at north of $200 million and located in parts of Almer, Ellington, and Fairgrove townships.
The applications are specific, right down to the latitude and longitude coordinates of each of the 61 turbines that are each 499 feet tall.
Braem did not return a voicemail left yesterday by press time.
Mike Putnam, trustee, Almer Township Board of Trustees, told The Advertiser Tuesday that he is a leaseholder for the new wind farm, similar to Duane Lockwood, supervisor, Ellington Township.
Putnam said the company may have had a business reason for not being able to answer the board’s question about detailed plans.
“Well, they’re just like everyone else, they might not know until the next day,” Putnam said. “Maybe the people that were here didn’t know that until then, or weren’t allowed to say that until then. Companies have rules amongst themselves of what they can disclose and what they can’t disclose at certain times.”
NextEra Energy Resources is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE), which had net income of more than $2.7 billion in 2015, according to the company’s annual report. Of that NextEra Energy Resources accounted for almost $1.1 billion
Ryan Pumford, project director, NextEra Energy Resources, did not respond to a voicemail asking specifically about the FAA applications.
Several area residents concerned about noise and setback ordinances relating to the project had mixed feelings about the applications being filed with the FAA.
“We are fortunate to have the (Caro) airport because without the FAA filings, we still wouldn’t know about the plan,” said Jim Tussey, of Almer Township.
Calls placed by The Advertiser to the FAA to get clarification on filing requirements for wind turbines near airports were not returned by press time.
However, all of the applications filed March 15 are available publicly by searching for “Michigan” on the organization’s website at http://1.usa.gov/1Ml66pV1
“I don’t think NextEra ever stopped moving ahead with their plan,” Tussey said. “They have confidence that they can get the townships to continue to roll over with increasingly lenient zoning.”
Norm Stephens, of Almer Township, also said it’s good for people who live in the vicinity of a wind turbine to get an idea of what the wind farm could look like.
“I guess I understand NextEra filing the applications with the FAA because they’re trying to push this through,” Stephens said. “My concern is the planning commission taking most, if not everything, that NextEra says as the gospel truth.”
Almer Township is reviewing its current wind turbine-related ordinances with the planning commission set to hold a public hearing on the matter April 6. The commission is expected to then make a recommendation to the township board.
The Ellington Township Board of Trustees is set to discuss its ordinance regarding wind at its April 5 meeting.
[video available at source]
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