STANTON – Up until now, the chairman of the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners has held back from publicly voicing his opinion regarding a wind turbine project proposed for the county.
During Monday’s county board budget workshop meeting, Patrick Q. Carr decided to speak up.
Carr, a Lakeview-area farmer and the fire chief of the Lakeview District Fire Department, has signed a lease with Apex Clean Energy, a Virginia-based wind energy developer which has proposed a 75-turbine project for an estimated nine townships in Montcalm County.
Carr’s wife, Kim Carr, is a member of the Cato Township Planning Commission, where she has voiced concerns about whether that township’s wind ordinance – which is in the process of being amended – might become too restrictive.
“I’m not trying to tell you how you ought to view the wind energy thing,” Pat Carr told county department heads present in Monday’s audience. “I get a lot of credit for supporting it for what it’s gonna do for me personally. I could care less personally. We’ve been farming for 141 years without the revenue from wind energy, I think we’re going continue to farm whether we do anything with the wind or not. So personally is not the motive that I support it – it’s from conversations (former Montcalm County Controller-Administrator) Bob (Clingenpeel) and I had with wind energy people five-plus years ago that wanted to come to this county, and they aren’t even the ones here (now).”
Carr cited the economic benefits of turbines in neighboring Gratiot County.
“I’ve seen the spreadsheets for what that’s done in Gratiot County, and if a 10th of that happened in Montcalm it would be a game-changer,” he said. “The total amount of tax money in Gratiot County from 2012 until the most revised thing I saw was through 2020, I believe, it was $54 or $56 million. That’s not what landowners got paid, that’s what they (the turbines) paid taxing entities in Gratiot County.”
Carr noted the Montcalm County board is regularly about half a million dollars short for budget requests from county department heads and for countywide services each year.
“Imagine what it’d be like if we had that extra revenue to the tune of a half a million or a million dollars,” he said. “It’s game-changing money. That’s why I support that. It would be huge for Montcalm County. It would be huge for the Lakeview Fire District. Two things that I’m involved in is the reason that I’m interested in seeing that come to Montcalm County.
“I think if you guys can half get on board and know what that would mean for your departments and your employees, now is the time to speak up because the people that are against it are out in full force and people that are supporting it should make their voices known,” Carr told county department heads in the audience. “That would be huge for us here in Montcalm County.”
“It’s been a lot of work in my office,” Register of Deeds Lori Wilson noted from the audience. “Part of the revenue that you’re seeing is from them (Apex and related parties). I mean, they’re in (her office) every day. I do support it.”
“Probably people don’t believe me but the reason that I support it has nothing to do with me personally,” Carr reiterated. “That’s not my motivating factor in supporting it at all, ‘cos there’s no guarantees – I might not be the recipient of any of that (money) on the personal end, but guaranteed Montcalm County is going to be a recipient of that happening here.”
“And let the (meeting) minutes reflect that so that everybody can read them down the road in the county,” Commissioner Ron Baker of Howard City declared.
The topic of wind came up later during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“I appreciate what you guys do,” Rick Hillman of Montcalm Township told commissioners. “I’ve listened today and you guys have good conversation, good common sense. I am in support, as some of us are, with the wind. I read in the paper and try to follow you guys a little bit and I appreciate what you guys do.”
“Also, we support wind,” Montcalm County Undersheriff Andy Doezema added.
Upcoming county board meetings
The Montcalm County Board of Commissioners will next meet at 1 p.m. on Monday for a third round of county budget talks for the 2022 fiscal year.
Their next regular meetings are Committee-of-the-Whole at 4 p.m. Aug. 9 and full board at 4 p.m. Aug. 23.
All meetings take place on the third floor of the Montcalm County Administrative Building (old courthouse) in Stanton.
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