HURON COUNTY – Huron County voters said “no” to more wind development Tuesday.
The unofficial results of various wind-related referendums in Huron County are as follows:
- Approval of the Filion wind overlay district for DTE Energy: failed, 36.6 percent to 63.4 percent (1,110 yes to 1,923 no)
- Approval of the Sherman/Sigel wind overlay district for NextEra Energy Resources LLC: failed, 36.67 percent to 63.33 (1,120 yes to 1,934 no)
- Approval of Lincoln Township forming its own planning commission: passed, 58.39 percent to 41.61 percent (174 yes to 124 no)
- Approval of Sand Beach Township ordinance restrictions: passed, 83.77 percent to 16.23 percent (413 yes to 80 no)
Defeat of the Filion layover:
Denise Rice, of Lincoln Township, is the secretary of Huron County Wind Resistance, a ballot question committee.
“All I can say is, the people have spoken. We didn’t persuade them any more than asking them and pleading with them to go to the polls with our big advertising dollars. But, they showed up, and they said, ‘no.’ Victory for the people is what we’re saying.”
The DTE development would have included 70 turbines on 16,900 acres in Lincoln Township, 4,100 acres in Sigel Township, 2,500 acres in Bloomfield Township and 2,000 acres in Dwight Township.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said Matt Wagner, renewable energy development manager for DTE. “We feel that our project was a great opportunity. We’re most disappointed for our landowners.”
“It doesn’t mean we’re not committed to Huron County,” he added, noting that there are multiple wind parks here.
Wagner said he does not know if DTE will pursue more development in Huron County.
“We really have to step back and evaluate things,” Wagner said. “There are probably some possibilities, but we have to look at a lot of things before we would make another decision like that.”
Defeat of the Sherman/Sigel layover:
There will be no development by NextEra Energy Resources for its Huron Wind, LLC project. NextEra proposed turbines in Sherman, Sigel, Sand Beach and Delaware townships. Of the 60 planned turbines, 40 were to be located in Sherman Township. Delaware Township is self-zoned and located in Sanilac County.
Brian Garner, manager of communications for NextEra, said the county is missing an economic opportunity.
“Unfortunately, tonight, the citizens of Huron County experienced an economic setback,” Garner said.
He thanked those who voted in favor of the wind park.
“In the days and week ahead, we will review these results as we consider next steps for future development opportunities,” he said.
Approval of the Lincoln Township Planning Commission:
The fate of Lincoln Township’s zoning will be up to Lincoln Township.
Believing that Huron County had done its part for wind development, the Lincoln Township Board of Trustees attempted to establish its own planning commission last summer, in what many saw as a move to stop wind development.
Lincoln Township Supervisor Melvin Drake said he hopes the township can unite.
“We’ll have to look at it and move on from here, I guess,” he said. “It was kind of a highly contested issue. Hopefully we can all come together now.”
Approval of Sand Beach Township ordinance restrictions:
Sand Beach approved changes in its ordinance that limit sound, which opponents say would not allow wind turbine development.
“We felt that we had a pulse on the people and they responded,” said Wade Mazure, Sand Beach Township supervisor. “They decided that we were correct.”
Huron still leads state in wind development
Huron County leads the state with 443 turbines standing. Another 29 are scheduled for construction this year.
Only county-zoned municipalities were allowed to vote for the Filion and Sherman/Sigel layovers.
The 16 county-zoned townships are: Bingham, Bloomfield, Brookfield, Dwight, Fairhaven, Gore, Grant, Hume, Lincoln, McKinley, Rubicon, Sebewaing, Sheridan, Sherman, Sigel and Winsor townships.