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Leeward Renewable Energy working to bring wind facility to Ionia County  

Credit:  By The Daily News Staff | September 20, 2022 | www.thedailynews.cc ~~

A Canadian-owned developer is continuing to work on bringing a wind turbine facility to Ionia County, a project which has been pending for well over a decade now.

Leeward Renewable Energy confirmed with the Daily News that the company is still actively working on the project.

“Leeward Renewable Energy (LRE) is developing a wind facility in the Ionia County area, which will bring additional energy generation, construction jobs and other anticipated long-term economic benefits to the community,” Leeward said in a statement provided by FGS Global, a strategic advisor for businesses. “LRE manages all of our projects in alignment with our core values of protecting and respecting the environments and communities in which we operate. As we move the development process forward, we will provide updates to the community and look forward to ongoing dialogue and input.”

Leeward officials declined to answer any additional questions from the Daily News via Smith regarding the project. John Wycherley, vice president of development for Leeward, did not return a message from the Daily News seeking comment.

The “Tupper Lake Wind Energy Project” dates back at least 14 years. A project developer with European-owned TCI Renewables presented the Ionia County Board of Commissioners with a presentation in May 2009 regarding developing a wind farm in Ionia County – specifically Sebewa Township – according to county board meeting minutes.

The Tupper Lake project eventually involved Campbell, Odessa and Sebewa townships – all unzoned townships in southern Ionia County, bordering Kent, Barry and Eaton counties. Tupper Lake is a private 97-acre lake in Odessa Township just outside the village of Lake Odessa.

The TCI Renewables project was purchased by Leeward in 2017, according to an article in the Hastings Banner.

A LOOK BACK

According to an October 2011 article in the Lansing State Journal, TCI Renewables held an open house at Sebewa Township Hall to allow residents to see the proposed plan for the Tupper Lake project, which at that time called for up to 50 turbines to be constructed in Sebewa, Odessa and Campbell townships, with each turbine about 490 feet tall and capable of generating between 1.5 and 2.5 megawatts of electricity for a total of 80 megawatts generated by the project. More than 100 landowners in the area were signed up for the project at that time.

February 2012, the Ionia County Airport Zoning Board of Appeals approved allowing 31 wind turbines to be placed by TCI Renewables within the zoning radius of the airport, according to Ionia County Board of Commissioners meeting minutes.

The Odessa Township Board began working on a wind ordinance in 2018, hiring the Okemos-based Fahey Schultz law firm to draft the ordinance, according to township board meeting minutes. The township board unanimously voted to approve a wind ordinance in 2019. The ordinance limits turbines to a maximum height of 499 feet with a setback distance of 1,200 feet from any habitable structure from a non-participating property, 1,000 feet from a habitable structure on a participating property or 1.25 times the turbine tip height from any parcel or lot line of a non-participating property and half a mile from the village limits of Lake Odessa. No more than three turbines shall be located within any square mile section of the township. Sound is modeled using Leq 10-minute intervals and sound is limited to 50 dB(A) from a non-participating habitable structure.

Odessa Township wind ordinance

Wycherley, vice president of development for Leeward, told Odessa Township officials in October 2018 that Leeward was working with 110 landowners and planning to connect the project to a substation on Nash Highway in Campbell Township, according to township board meeting minutes.

A township board meeting in February 2019 attracted more than 70 residents, according to minutes. At that meeting, Wycherley said the project was planning on 50 to 60 turbines on 17,000 to 20,000 acres and that the project would generate $15 million for 30 years in new tax revenue, plus $35 million for landowners over 30 years. The meeting received lots of public comment from both sides and attorney William Fahey answered many of the questions asked by attendees.

Sebewa Township Supervisor John Piercefield, who has been the township supervisor for almost six years now, told the Daily News that Wycherley has been in contact with him as recently as this past week.

“He updated us on their infrastructure investment,” Piercefield said. “He’s kept us up to date.”

Piercefield said according to his understanding, the wind project has been delayed because a few years ago Leeward attempted to sell the project to Consumers Energy but lost out to a bid from another wind project in Michigan’s Thumb area. He said Leeward representatives met with landowners just this past week to update them on the still-pending project.

Piercefield noted that while Sebewa Township is not zoned, township officials are considering creating a wind ordinance, as well as a solar ordinance.

“I have no horse on this race,” Piercefield said. “It doesn’t affect me one way or the other. My personal view: Everything should be considered, but before you do something that could impact the entire township, we would like to have that power, that right to include all those who have interest in commenting on it.”

Piercefield, who works in the recycling industry, believes a wind project does have the possibility of economically benefitting the township. He also likes the possibility of the newest wind turbine parts being recyclable.

“Personally, I think wind is a whole lot better than solar, it uses a lot less land, especially farmland,” he said. “You can recycle everything, including the fiberglass blades, from a windmill. There is no recycling in solar panels at all, due to the lithium components, from my understanding.”

Gary Secor was appointed Odessa Township supervisor last October, after David Bulling retired as supervisor. Secor told the Daily News he has not had any communications from Leeward officials since he’s taken office.

“I don’t have any feelings regarding it one way or the other,” said Secor about the wind debate. “In the last 11 months I haven’t had any inquiries on it. We do not have any wind applications at this time.”

At this past July’s Campbell Township Board meeting, board members “discussed the past interest from wind turbine companies,” according to meeting minutes.

“I do not know of any further wind power plans,” Campbell Township Supervisor Brian Thompson told the Daily News. “The one a few years ago, my understanding is they had some right-of-ways for the power because the substation is in Campbell Township.”

The Daily News has also confirmed that Leeward is looking at Montcalm County for a possible solar project, although Leeward officials declined to comment on this.

Texas-based Leeward is a portfolio company of OMERS Infrastructure, a global infrastructure investor and investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada’s largest defined benefits pension plans, according to Leeward’s website. Leeward owns and operates 24 renewable energy facilities across nine states totaling more than 2,500 megawatts of installed capacity and is currently developing new wind, solar and energy storage projects across the U.S. with more than 100 projects under development.

Source:  By The Daily News Staff | September 20, 2022 | www.thedailynews.cc

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 via e-mail.

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