HURON TOWNSHIP – The Huron Township Planning Commission voted to accept a proposal for up to 21 new wind turbines to be built in the coming years.
The vote was 4-0 to approve plans for the Deerfield II Wind Farm from Liberty Utilities, as three members of the planning commission had to recuse themselves from voting due to conflicts of interest.
Chairman Keith Iseler and commission members Joanne Schulte and Jeff Phillips abstained because they are landowners in the proposed area the turbines would be built and do stand to gain financially from the project. Landowners in the turbine areas would get remunerations for having turbines there.
The meeting was held over the Zoom conferencing application on Thursday evening, with the planners speaking from their homes, Spicer Group representatives from their Saginaw offices, and with up to 49 meeting attendees. Alan Bean of Spicer Group lead the meeting.
Iseler said the township board had already granted site permits for this project and it was up to the planners to grant a special use permit.
Related Story: Huron Township receives applications for future turbines
During the meeting, Roberto Caputo of Algonquin Power, the parent company of Liberty Utilities, and the project manager for the Deerfield II project, went over the specifications of the project with others involved in this.
The project would build up to 21 new wind turbines, with the four different models used for generating 2.65 MW to 6 MW of power. The heights from the hub of the turbines to the ground range from 263 feet to 390 feet, though with the blades the largest models would be over 600 feet high.
Caputo said this project would provide power for 100,000 homes and contribute to Michigan’s goal of growing renewables by 35% by 2025. Over 80 landowners with an approximately 8,500 acres of land would be participating in this, with the turbines and facilities taking up less 10 acres of land total.
Land acquisition would begin in 2021 with permitting, geothermal and environmental surveys continuing until 2022. Construction is planned for 2022, with the first commercial operations for the new wind farm starting that same year.
Assessments completed by ComSearch found the turbines would not impact television reception, mobile phones, emergency services, or radio broadcasts. If any signal disruption does occur, individuals can report the issue through a complaint resolution process and the Deerfield team will investigate and provide a solution.
Sound modeling found that noise that would come from the turbines, from the mechanical components inside the turbines and the whooshing sound the blades make, were conforming to township zoning ordinance guidelines.
The planners granted the special use permits on 17 conditions the operators must meet. These include entering a bond agreement with the Huron County Road Commission to repair any roads and access areas damaged by construction, reapplying if construction does not begin in a two-year window, providing Federal Aviation Administration determinations of no hazard for each turbine, and providing annual inspection reports to the township planning commission.
The township and Liberty Utilities also entered into a mutual decommissioning agreement that can be revisited every five years to address inflation and the value of security. The decommissioning cost was set at $140,000 per turbine based on information Liberty submitted.
The public comment portion of the meeting had some residents asking general questions about the project and others voicing their opposition to new turbines.
Deborah Syme, who lives in Harrison Township and whose family owns property in Kinde, said that she plans on retiring in the township and building a home on her grandmother’s property there. Her reasons for opposing the turbines include their noise, safety hazards, the environmental impact they will have, and that they block cell phone coverage.
“There are enough wind turbines in Huron County,” Syme said. “What are you going to pass onto your children and grandchildren? Rusted, abandoned, industrial towers sticking 600 feet in the air?
Syme also accused the planning commission members of lining up their pocketbooks with this project and said she plans on contacting the Huron County prosecuting attorney about this.
Wayne Perdue, who owns property on Kinch Road, said he is opposed to building more turbines because there are enough already.
Other commenters asked how to sign up for the project if they are interested and why some of the turbines are larger than the rest.
After the planning commission approved of these plans, Diane Syme, a resident who also voiced her opposition to the turbines, called the planning commission “a bunch of mafia” and “greedy, self-righteous politicians.”
Huron Township is already home to 25 wind turbines that are part of Deerfield Wind Farm I, which started operation in February 2017 and generate 52.5 MW of power.
A website for the project is available for more information, at www.deerfieldwindenergy2.com. Liberty Utilities is also accepting emails about this project at email@example.com.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding