CARO – Residents from as far away as the Upper Peninsula had a message for State Rep. Gary Glenn to take back to Lansing recently at a town hall on renewable energy.
Jon Block, a Marion Township trustee, was one of about 200 people who attended the recent meeting at Caro High School, and he received thunderous applause after telling Glenn the following:
“Everywhere wind turbines go, the social fabric of the community is destroyed.”
After the applause dissipated, Block went on to say, “I want you to tell your colleagues, the senate and the governor: As long as the mandate (for renewable energy) stands, they’re mandating the destruction of the social fabric of Michigan.”
Deceit and bullying in communities where wind development takes place were among complaints of two dozen residents who spoke – only one of whom supported local wind energy development.
Residents and township officials at the meeting came from the Garden Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula, as well as Shiawassee, Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties.
Huron County Planning Commission members Robert McLean and Ken Walker attended, along with at least a dozen other Huron County residents.
At the end of the two-and-a-half-hour conversation, Glenn said there were two takeaways: conflict of interest at the local level and that the social fabric of Michigan’s communities is being destroyed.
The Larkin Township Republican chairs the Michigan House Energy Policy Committee and is the associate speaker of the house pro tem.
The point of the meeting was to discuss the future of wind development in the Thumb.
Glenn said he supports repealing a law passed in December that calls for requiring electric providers to produce 15 percent of their power from wind or other renewable sources by the end of 2021, up from 10 percent currently.
He favors lifting that 10 percent cap and allowing all electricity users to choose where they buy electricity.
Glenn represents parts of Bay and Midland counties.
“The energy issue is a very important issue to the folks that I have the privilege of representing,” he said.
“But this is the epicenter of the debate going on right now in Michigan on wind energy in particular.”
He noted that the recent wind referendums turned down by some 20 jurisdictions in the Thumb area had caught Lansing’s attention.
Robert Gaffke of Bloomfield Township informed Glenn of his dispute with Heritage Sustainable Energy, LLC, where he is accusing the company officials of offering him $100 and three percent royalties to sign off on complaining about noise and visual effects of nearby turbines.
He provided a long list of things he would have to ignore, including audio, visual, light, noise, vibration and radio frequency interference.
“All for a hundred bucks?” Glenn replied jokingly.
“Hell of a buy,” McLean chimed in.
Many residents from throughout the Thumb complained that their local governments had approved wind energy developments when a majority of board or planning commission members had wind contracts.
Some called for more accountability and transparency standards for wind developers.
Others said that without the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act, “We’d be toast.”
Gov. Rick Snyder’s goal is 40 percent renewable energy, Glenn said.
He said 2019 to 2020 could be a “golden window of opportunity on all these issues.”
Michigan will have a new governor and a different senate, he said.
“We’re going to use the next two years as a bully pulpit to beat the drum for freedom of choice at the local level for competition in the marketplace, whatever it takes to bring prices down.”
In other news, Glenn had toured the Caro Center earlier that day.
“Dr. Canfield (who represents Huron and Tuscola counties in the House) is going to have my 100 percent support to put into the state budget that if they’re going to spend $110 million to build a new psychological facility, they’re going to do it in Caro.”
This news was met by applause and cheers.
Glenn’s parting words to the crowd were, “God bless you and keep you strong for the fight.”
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