Ingersoll Township describes itself as a well-established, peaceful township with wooded areas in the northern part of the township and extensive farmland in the south, providing an open, rural environment. That southern portion is being eyed for wind turbines.
“The sad result of an undertaking like this is that it often produces opposing sides that are not easily reconciled,” Ingersoll Township Supervisor Chuck Tabb said. “The biggest concern I have is that it will take a township, a community, that has been fairly stable, prosperous (and) the people have gotten along together well, and it is going to divide them. My concern as supervisor is to do everything I can to keep that from happening.”
DTE Energy plans to place wind turbines not only in Ingersoll Township, but also possibly in Mount Haley Township, Tabb said.
“We found out that they have had a contractor out surveying the area to see if there was interest and willingness,” Tabb added. “They’ve already approached large property owners in the area with leases to sign.”
Mount Haley Township residents have also been approached about interest.
“I had a call a couple of months ago from somebody asking if they could talk to residents. But, I haven’t heard anything (back),” Mount Haley Supervisor Rich Keenan said.
Wind turbine projects have been a hot topic across the state — and the division in Ingersoll has already begun.
“There are some residents of the county who have been approached and are in favor. They’ve given me some input,” Tabb said. “But, we do have some strong anti-wind turbine (stances) from farmers who own lots of lands.”
Residents will be able to get some answers in a special town hall meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at the Ingersoll Township Hall, 3026 S. Sasse Road. Scotty Kehoe, DTE Energy regional manager for corporate and government affairs, will be in attendance to answer questions from concerned residents. Attempts by the Daily News to contact Kehoe for comment were unsuccessful.
“I’m thinking we will have a clarification of their objectives along with explaining the impact of what they want to do as they see it,” Tabb said.
Tabb said that Kehoe told him the reason behind the wind project is that the state of Michigan is requiring DTE to generate 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, up from 10 percent now.
The current township ordinance would allow a special use permit after meeting certain requirements. If they meet the qualifications, DTE could apply for and receive a special use permit, Tabb said.
“We have established an ordinance for wind energy that we did about 10 years ago,” Tabb said. “But, we need to immediately update our ordinance and are working with a planner to do that. We’re going to have to do something because DTE is going to get some people that are willing to have them on their land.”
DTE built a 212.8-megawatt project featuring 133 1.6-MW GE wind turbines in Wheeler, Bethany, Emerson and Lafayette townships of Gratiot County, which generates enough renewable energy to power more than 50,000 Michigan homes. The project went online in June 2012 and was expected to provide an estimated $50 million in total taxes over the next 20 years as well as $2 million in annual lease payments to property owners.
“They say that it increases the tax base. But, with a township like Ingersoll, we aren’t going hand-to-mouth,” Tabb said. “We’ve maintained a good fund balance for the purpose of a rainy day. If you look at that on an individual basis it might impact their taxes $50 per year, maybe. Probably not even that.”
Opponents of wind turbines cite noise, flickering lights on each turbine and wildlife concerns, including the possibility of birds getting hit by the spinning turbine blades and dying