CARO, MI – NextEra Energy Resources is seeking to build a wind farm in Tuscola County’s Juniata and Fairgrove townships. If approved, it would be the wind energy developer’s third such project in Tuscola County and its fourth in the state.
“This project is a 156-megawatt wind energy center that features 63 GE turbines. We’re proposing 31 of those turbines for Juniata Township and 32 for Fairgrove Township,” said Bryan Garner, manager of communications for Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources.
“It’s a project that would deliver significant economic benefits to the area.”
On Saturday, Dec. 9, the Juniata Township Planning Commission will host a public hearing to discuss the special land use permit application it received from Pegasus Wind LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra. Garner said each of NextEra’s projects is its own LLC. This proposed project would be called the Pegasus Wind Energy Center.
The public hearing is to take place at 9 a.m. on the grounds of the Juniata Township Hall, 1971 Ringle Road in Caro.
Garner said the proposed project represents an approximately $200 million capital investment that, if approved by both townships, could bring as many as 350 construction jobs to the area and create seven to 12 “good-paying jobs to operate the wind energy center once it’s complete.”
“In the first 30 years, we estimate the project will generate an additional $35 million in property taxes for the region, as well as millions of dollars in land owner payments,” he said.
Garner said landowners have already signed up to host wind turbines and related infrastructure on their properties and NextEra is now beginning the permitting process.
“We do have landowners who have signed onto the project and sufficient land to be able to build this project,” he said.
NextEra aims to start and complete construction next year.
“We would hope to bring the project online by the end of 2018,” Garner said.
Not everyone is convinced this will be a good thing for the community.
Lifelong Juniata Township resident Brenda Bigham is a member of the Concerned Citizens of Juniata Township. She said the group, which consists of several core members, would like township officials to carefully consider NextEra’s proposal and residents’ concerns before making a decision. And the plan to host a public hearing outside in a tent on a cold December day is not conducive to public comment, she said.
“I have a lot of concerns,” Bigham said. “This is something that will impact our community not just today and tomorrow. It’s going to impact our community for 20, 30 years to come.”
Bigham said she was not approached by NextEra representatives about leasing her land for the propsed project because she doesn’t have enough acreage, but some of her neighbors were. If this plan goes forward, she has concerns about noise and the so-called “flicker effect” from the turbines.
“My primary concern at this point, personally, is for the health and safety of my family and the welfare of my family,” she said.
She would like township officials to place a moratorium on wind development so they have more time to conduct research and consider all possible consequences of a wind farm.
Garner said NextEra’s projects are “well run and they contribute a great deal to the community.”
“Safety is foremost in our minds when we site a wind project. We site our wind projects responsibly, in compliance with all local and state and federal guideline,” he said. “We have succesfully built and operate more than 115 wind energy centers across the country and in Canada.”
He added, “Safety is absolutely a priority for us. That said, wind energy is a safe technology and has proven to be so and has successfully generated clean energy for decades now.”
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