The possibility of wind farms in a community may cause serious conflict among neighbors, friends and family members. It also has the possibility of another conflict – local officials, who may financially benefit from wind turbines.
As a result, Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Township, has introduced House Bill 4968 to prevent conflict of interests for local officials related to potential wind farm developments.
In Midland County, Ingersoll Township is in the process of determining whether, or not, to approve wind turbines. Other townships in the county have also considered wind turbines.
At its Oct. 15 meeting, all seven members of the Ingersoll Township Planning Commission stated publicly they had no conflict of interest either themselves or with relatives that may be considering wind turbines on their property.
Michigan energy companies, DTE and Consumers Energy, have a state mandate to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2021, up from the current 10 percent. Because of the mandate, DTE and Consumers have been pursuing the creation of more wind farms around the state.
Glenn’s bill would prohibit local government officials, including planning commission members, from voting on issues where they might financially benefit.
“Public officials should act in the public’s best interests – not their own financial interests,” said Glenn on Tuesday in a release. “Government officials shouldn’t be voting on wind farm developments if they stand to personally profit from the projects.”
Under Glenn’s bill, officials who fail to disqualify themselves from votes on wind turbines, while benefiting financially, may constitute grounds for removal from office or felony charges and fines.
Currently, HB 4968 remains in the House Energy Policy Committee of which Glenn is chairman. Rep. Roger Hauck, vice-chairman of the same committee, represents Ingersoll Township in the state house.
Should HB 4968 move out of the House Energy Committee to the House floor, it would need the approval of both House and Senate before heading to the governor’s desk for enactment into law.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding