BEAVER TWP, MI – Beaver Township has drafted and passed an ordinance that officials with DTE Energy say ultimately prevents the utility from planting a wind farm project in the rural Bay County community.
The decision comes after the community voiced their concerns about property value, wildlife, proximity to neighboring property lines and physical safety.
“The safety welfare and well being of the community has to be my first concern,” said Beaver Township Supervisor Steve Gray.
The ordinance includes a 2,000-foot setback from roads – four times the height of a turbine – and “extremely low” sound limits, DTE officials argue.
“Beaver Township set a sound limit that was so low that it basically would not allow any turbine in any one mile by one mile section. The reason why that’s a challenge to us, is because wind energy is a permitted,legal use of agricultural land in Michigan,” said Matt Wagner, manager of renewable energy development for DTE.
On Monday, May 14, the Beaver Township Board of Trustees passed an ordinance that regulates wind turbines, with four votes in favor of the ordinance and one abstained vote. Gray said the wind farm project was proposed for a highly residential area of the township, which has a population of under 3,000, according to the U.S. Census.
DTE says the ordinance all but prevents the development of wind parks in the community.
“We are disappointed for the Beaver Township land owners, businesses and community that stood to benefit in many ways, including increased tax revenue and job creation,” Cindy Hecht, a DTE spokeswoman, said in an email to MLive.
Gray, the township’s supervisor, described the ordinance as “strong,” with “tough setbacks.”
About 80 people attended Monday’s meeting and only two were in favor of a wind park being developed, Gray said. Hecht, in an email, said those against the wind project only represent a small portion of the community.
More than 250 landowners in Bay County have signed on for wind energy, which equates to 28,000 acres, Wagner said.
He said a big push of opposition comes from outside the community such as opposition groups that try to convince residents that renewable energy is not good for the community.
“These are things that happen in communities, and our intention is to stay the course and we’re going to continue to build a network of informed land owners, residents and stakeholders who support wind energy,” Wagner said.
DTE is still exploring other municipalities in Bay County for opportunities to start a wind farm, Wagner said. The company plans to install 50-60 turbines in Bay County, Wagner said.
More than 20 wind farms have been developed in rural communities in the Thumb and across the state in areas like Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, Saginaw, Bay, Gratiot and Isabella counties.
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