L’ANSE – The proposed Summit Lake Wind Project by the Renewable Energy Systems Group (RES) has divided residents and local government officials.
Research for the project started in 2016, but it has gained more attention and more opposition since it was unveiled in December 2017. Since then RES has held an open house and numerous community meetings, and the issue has been raised at various other community meetings.
Mark Massicotte, chairman of the Baraga County Economic Development Corporation, said since the wind farm proposal has evolved into a polarizing subject, accuracy and transparency are essential in resolving the issue.
Although L’Anse Township will make the ultimate decision, he believes the Baraga County community at large deserves to voice its opinion.
Some of the concern from community lies with them believing that RES and local municipalities are leaving them out of the decision, and there is not enough information.
“If that group is driving it, others feel like they don’t have a voice. I think everybody needs a voice,” said Massicotte. “I believe an informed community is the best way to go. … Hopefully, we can get all the information together and have an informed community.”
Although he doesn’t have a set stance on the issue, he said there are some benefits, such as sustainability and job creation, which are reasons to retain residents.
He said the area exports 50-60 people a year. It would benefit the entire county if that number was reduced.
“If we can keep them, I see that as a big deal,” said Massicotte.
At the special meeting on April 27 called by the Baraga County Board, community members said there are already jobs available, but people are not interested in them.
Massicotte said it is difficult to determine what will happen, but he hopes the property rights of everyone involved are protected.
The EDC’s current focus is the procedural process between the township, community and RES.
It has limited contact with RES, but it has spoken with the company and is currently checking to see if the project complies and fits with the community’s standards.
Then the EDC will be deciding whether or not to support the proposal.
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