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Wind turbines in Michigan criticized at Bay County meeting

KAWKAWLIN, MI – Township officials from around Michigan and a group of about 300 citizens gathered Tuesday in Bay County at a forum where they heard from a speaker critical of wind energy.

Energy companies are looking at several sites in Bay County as possible locations for a new wind turbine farm.

Keynote speaker Kevon Martis, a senior policy fellow E and E Legal, spoke to the audience at the Beaver Township Community Hall Tuesday, Oct. 16, about some of the problems residents with wind turbines in their area have claimed. Those issues include noise and location near houses, he said.

“You’re being pressured in each township to write an ordinance that says yes or no to wind development,” he said.

He said his research shows that Michigan’s wind resource is not economical and that it is a “poor environmental value.”

Representatives from Bay County’s Monitor Township were at the meeting, including Ken Malkin, township supervisor.

“It was informative, we are getting a lot of good feedback. Our township residents have spoken clearly that they want an ordinance that protects them,” he said.

Mark Suchy, a farmland owner who helped put on the event, said it was to help inform people about wind energy.

“So the group that put this on (is) a group of us that is passionate about understanding this,” Suchy said. “There needs to be a multi-township community-wide, I call it a symposium, and it’s where we bring more people together.”

Suchy said he believes in renewable energy and is a green builder, too.

“We did a whole bunch of research. Kevon’s name would come up over and over and over again, when you’re looking for a non-biased, nonpublic official and not working for an energy company,” he said. “Maybe non-biased isn’t the right word but I wanted someone who didn’t work for the wind energy company and wasn’t a government official.”

At the meeting, no one spoke in favor of wind energy or what potential benefits it might have.

According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, wind energy is a clean energy source that doesn’t pollute the air like power plants that rely on combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas, which emit nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides.

Martis said that the areas where DTE Energy and other wind companies want to put turbines in mid-Michigan or in the Thumb are actually not good sites for turbines because there isn’t enough steady, strong wind.

“I’m not anti-wind turbines, I’m pro-economics and pro-environment,” he said, adding that wind turbines in Michigan are a very expensive and inefficient way to produce electricity and reduce emissions.

There are several operating wind-energy farms in the Thumb and in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.