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Residents upset over proposed wind farm in Wheatland Township  

Credit:  By Kate Pipher | Hillsdale Collegian | October 31, 2019 | hillsdalecollegian.com ~~

A pro­posed wind farm in Hillsdale County’s Wheatland Township has been met with the resis­tance of 120 angry res­i­dents.

Members from the group “Informed Cit­izens of Wheatland Township” gathered outside Wheatland Township Hall during the Oct. 8 township board meeting to voice their dis­ap­proval for the wind farm ini­tially pro­posed from Invenergy, an Illinois-based energy company.

Chris Pollard, a res­ident of Wheatland Township, is leading the efforts to slow down con­struction of the wind farm.

“The wind tur­bines are not as green as people think,” Pollard said. “They are made of carbon and leave a large carbon foot­print, and they use a lot of oil in their gen­er­ators. They also aren’t very effi­cient; they only work around 36% of the time.”

Dave Stone, super­visor of Wheatland Township, said that by state law, power plants are required to produce a certain per­centage of green energy. The per­centages required con­tinues to increase. Windmill energy is an emerging alter­native as coal plants con­tinue to be shut down due to envi­ron­mental reasons. Stone said that by putting wind farms in, they are “just trying to comply with the law.”

This wind farm will span three town­ships in Hillsdale County and 25,000 acres. Invenergy, a pri­vately-owned energy company, plans to install the 166-megawatt com­mercial wind farm in Adams, Moscow, and Wheatland town­ships.

Invenergy is placing wind­mills in more than 33 town­ships throughout Michigan, according to Stone.

After con­structing the wind farms, Invenergy will sell the wind farm to Con­sumers Energy for $250 million, according to Stone.

The wind farm won’t affect con­sumer energy rates until after the pur­chase. Con­sumer Energy’s mission statement is to have 90% of its energy come from clean energy sources, reduce emis­sions by 90%, and cease the use of coal by 2040.

Many cit­izens in the town­ships say they have con­cerns that the wind­mills will hurt their quality of life.

“People come up with reasons such as they think they’re ugly or they don’t want them in their back­yards,” Stone said. “There’s lots of anger from seeing things on YouTube and Facebook.”

Pollard said that he has no problem with wind­mills as long as they stay within the con­fines of the owner’s property and don’t affect other people. But these wind tur­bines, Pollard said, will affect everyone in the area.

Pollard said that wind­mills produce “sub-sound,” which “transfers through your home and can thicken your blood and cause other health con­cerns.”

About 120 members of the Informed Cit­izens of Wheatland Township back Pollard, and they are protesting the process used to approve the wind farm.

“We have found that our township has put zoning ordi­nances in and mis­handled the vote to do it,” Pollard said. “We are fighting the township and the board to go back and do it legally. All of the boards have too many people on them that have con­tracts with the company. They did not recuse them­selves, but voted it through.”

Klaus Law PLLC is rep­re­senting the cit­izens and filed a petition for admin­is­trative appeal.

“If you look at the media minutes for the Wheatland Township com­mission and board, you’ll find several of the voting members have a con­flict of interest, yet they voted in favor of a con­di­tional use permit,” attorney Nicholas Klaus said.

The group peti­tioned the Zoning Board of Appeals, which denied their appeal. Pollard said the group will file its com­plaint with the Hillsdale County Circuit Court.

Pollard said the group is asking that the board put the issue up for a vote.

“That’s all we’ve ever asked for,” he said.

Addi­tionally, Pollard said he believes the company Invenergy chose the three town­ships because they are poor com­mu­nities.

“They knew we were poor,” he said. “They went into the town­ships and flashed money around, and then all of a sudden, here we are.”

The cit­izens who agree to have wind tur­bines placed on their property are finan­cially com­pen­sated by Con­sumers Energy.

Pollard said he is con­cerned the town­ships will not see any of the money being invested in the wind tur­bines, and he is also worried about property values dropping.

“Invenergy is paid in federal sub­sidies, which are mil­lions of our tax dollars, and then they will sell the farm to Con­sumers Energy for $250 million and have approval to raise everybody’s energy rates 20% to pay for this,” Pollard said. “We’re paying for it a second time. The third time we will be paying for it is when they have to decom­mission the tur­bines within 15 – 20 years. It costs a million and a half to decom­mission one.”

But Stone said Wheatland Township has com­mis­sioned extensive research studies, and experts from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have found no reason not to con­struct the wind­mills in the area.

“Every­thing people come up with against the wind­mills –– those matters have all been resolved,” Stone said.

One of the issues cit­izens com­plain about is “shadow flicker,” which is the effect of the sun shining through the rotating blades of a turbine. It can be an annoyance to res­i­dences in close prox­imity to the wind­mills.

Stone said that there are only about 30 hours a year in which shadow flicker could poten­tially occur.

“When there is a pos­si­bility for it, they turn the tur­bines off based on how the sun is hitting the wind turbine,” he said.

Res­i­dents also fear the wind farm will damage the wildlife pop­u­lation. Pollard said he is con­cerned the tur­bines will affect the animal habits and will change the water table, which would, in turn, affect the open wells.

Stone, however, said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources along with other orga­ni­za­tions “have done extensive research on this issue and it’s just not true.”

Without any legal setback, the con­struction of the wind farm is set to begin at the end of 2020. “We as a com­munity do need green energy,” Pollard said. “But instead of just shoving this down our throats, we need to look at it and find an objective green energy.”

Source:  By Kate Pipher | Hillsdale Collegian | October 31, 2019 | hillsdalecollegian.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments to query/wind-watch.org.

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