BAD AXE – Before the county decides to put a moratorium on wind energy, a DTE Energy manager says that officials need to understand that the current Huron County wind ordinance is plenty restrictive.
Matt Wagner, manager of wind development at DTE, told the Huron County Planning Commission this week that the county’s wind ordinance is nearly exclusionary.
The map of the buildable area for a wind overlay zone in Lincoln, Dwight, Sigel and Bloomfield townships shows that the 2015 changes to the ordinance limit the available space for turbines, Wagner said.
He submitted the map to the commission, and read an accompanying letter.
“DTE is submitting this map today to allow the Huron County Planning Commission time to review prior to the Dec. 14, 2016, hearing regarding the board of commissioner’s resolution regarding a five-year moratorium.”
“This buildable area map underscores the effectiveness of the current ordinance in limiting wind turbine placement, obviating the need to implement a five-year moratorium, while the county considers changes to the wind energy zoning ordinance for the second time in less than three years.”
“Review of this map reveals the restrictive nature of Huron County’s recent revised wind energy ordinance,” Wagner said.
“DTE has included two examples of specific areas in the overlay which allow direct comparison between the 2010 and 2015 versions of the wind zoning ordinance. Review of these structures reveals the striking impact of the 2015 wind-energy zoning ordinance on reducing buildable area. These examples also reveal how close the 2015 ordinance is to being truly exclusionary.”
Wagner said it is “noteworthy that no projects have been built under the 2015 revision of the wind ordinance, so the county has limited perspective on how truly significant the 2015 ordinance changes are.”
Cynthia Hecht, senior communications specialist for DTE, told the Tribune that the overlay district includes about 25,500 acres of land with DTE wind energy agreements across the four townships.
Approximate acres in the overlay district include 16,900 in Lincoln, 4,100 in Sigel, 2,000 in Dwight, and 2,500 in Bloomfield.
DTE expects the project to be between 100 and 150 megawatts and include 50 to 70 wind turbines, although the total number of turbines may change depending on selected turbine size and other factors, Hecht said.
“The utility has easement contracts for wind development with approximately 200 landowners in the overlay and is talking with other landowners and developers regarding additional land.”
The moratorium was proposed by Commissioner Ron Wruble last month, and the Huron County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 to send it to the planners for review and recommendation.
With 473 turbines expected to be in operation by year’s end, and another 100 currently proposed, Wruble said then that he believes the county is “teetering on the cusp of the point of no return.”
“There isn’t a lot of property left in Huron County that doesn’t have wind turbines,” he told his fellow commissioners and a packed meeting room in November.
“When do we reach a saturation point when the sheer number in totality causes irreparable harm to our county?”
The board has designated that the planners return the proposed amendment regarding the moratorium to the board by Dec. 20, and the board could consider it before the end of the year.
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