For Lakeview resident Tammy Resseguire, there have been too many questions but not enough answers on the impact of the 75 wind turbines proposed for portions of Montcalm County.
“I wish people would get more active with their township. They need to go to their planning commission and find out what’s going on,” Resseguie said.
But for Montcalm Township farmer Del Christensen, a tower on his land would supplement his income.
“Is it good? Is it bad? You know, the government has mandated that this stuff has got to come, so if it don’t come here, it’s going to go somewhere else,” he said.
So goes the arguments for and against the project proposed by Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy. Locations in 11 Montcalm County townships are being considered for the project, which developers hope to have up and running by 2024.
Currently, about half a dozen towers equipped with meteorology gear are measuring wind speeds and other variables to determine which sites offered the best breeze.
The 75 turbines could produce up to 375 megawatts of power; the company says that’s enough to power 85,000 homes every year.
“The reason we’re here is we’re going through a transition of shutting down coal plants and sitting down our nuke facilities, so we have to find a way to produce new sources of electricity,” Albert Jongewaard, senior development manager for Apex, said.
Jongewaard said the project will also produce new sources of revenue and could inject as much as $40 million into local tax coffers over its life.
The company won’t talk specifics on what it pays landowners.
The proposal has drawn criticism from residents, who formed Montcalm County Citizens United to fight it. Their complaints are the common ones for this type of project: too tall, too close and too loud.
“Not to mention the value of our property will plummet from all I’ve seen where there are other windmill farms,” Resseguie said.
Jongewaard said he has heard those concerns and more. His company has launched a pro-wind turbine website to try to counter them.
“The good news is there’s answers,” he said. “There’s 60,000 wind turbines out there up and running safely across the United States today. There’s about 1,200 in the state of Michigan. So we’re not doing something that’s brand new.”
If similar wind turbine projects in other parts of the state are any indication, opponents may not have much power to stop the project.
Del Christensen recalls what an old friend use to tell him:
“It’s progress, young man. You’re not going to change it.”
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