Wind Saved the Family Farm

“The more than $100 billion that companies have invested in wind power in low-income counties—where about 70 percent of wind farms are located—has helped double assessed land values in some of the poorest parts of rural America.”

In a recent report by Bloomberg Businessweek it noted that “Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago.”

For some farmers, turbines spin off six-figure incomes that have allowed them to retire from farming altogether. However, this windfall his highly dependent wind conditions,  location, local zoning, setback requirements and a bit of luck. In Huron County Michigan, turbine projects and placement has pitted neighbor vs. neighbor and nasty exchanges in the township halls have ensued. While each lease is confidential, Bloomberg noted that landowners who sign lease agreements with wind companies typically get between $7,000 and $10,000 per turbine each year.

“Before, I raised corn and soybeans and cattle. Now I don’t. I’m a wind farmer.”

In an analysis of the article by Tina Casey she noted, “The full impact of new wind turbines on local communities is a bit more mixed than the article represents, but it does underscore how the wind industry is playing a critical role rural economic development — without the high risks and impacts of fossil fuel extraction.”


Wind Turbines To The Rescue, Family Farm Edition

Wind Is the New Corn for Struggling Farmers

Huron Co. Now A Koch Brother Target?

It started out as a simple question. Who donated $1,100 to Lincoln Township to set up a legal defense fund. The fund was being set up in case a legal challenge should arise because of a sudden change in zoning policy with respect to wind project development.

Lincoln Township resident Arlene Schipinski wanted to know what happened to cause this sudden formation of a legal fund for her Township. Her questions were met with criticism and hostility. To date she has been stonewalled by the township with each request resulting in $1,000s in township expense and no answer to who has funded this “legal slush fund.” Schipinski has filed four FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests and more are pending in the next days.

The Huron Daily Tribune reported that the Township is part of a “39,000-acre wind overlay district currently proposed by DTE Energy that also includes parts of Dwight, Bloomfield and Sigel townships, and would include 50 to 70 turbines.” It seems that  in a dramatic turn of events that Lincoln township board has turned cold on the idea of further wind development. Citing; “We feel that Huron County has done our part as far as Green Energy. We feel that no additional turbines should be allowed in Huron County.” Yet four of five Lincoln board members have easement agreements with DTE Energy for the new project. That includes Supervisor Melvin Drake, Clerk Irvin Kanaski, Treasurer Patricia Weber and Trustee John Wisneski. according to the Huron Daily Tribute. What caused this turn-around?

Since ThumbWind was made aware of this story we have been contacted by several residents and concerned citizens who what to “set us straight”. This sudden interest to our questions sent up the red flares and our team has been reaching out in several areas. What we found had been chilling. 

The Interest of the IICC in the Thumb’s Wind Projects.

The Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, IICC, is supposedly a local anti-wind group based in Adrian Michigan. Yet their moniker appears to comment and be involved for just about every wind project from the Mackinaw Bridge to southern Indiana. Suddenly the IICC groups director, Kevon Martis, begins commenting in the Huron Daily Tribune on the FOIA requests. According to Michigan State University’s “State News” IICC was able to have the resources and funding to bus protesters from Indiana, Ohio, Ontario and Huron County into Lansing for an anti-wind project protest in Lansing in November 2013. The group’s director Kevon Martis has multiple connections to known fossil fuel-funded front groups. His group has cited the work of the Center of the American Experiment, an affiliate of the State Policy Network; a Koch Brothers funded front group.

The Koch brothers, who are notorious for attacking renewable energy — precisely because their fossil fuel interests are so threatened by renewable energy — the tactic is to fund local grass roots organizations to offer resource assistance for anti-wind efforts.

Martis’ also criticized a ballot proposition that would have expanded Michigan’s renewable energy standard last fall in the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Capitol Confidential blog, on the website of fossil fuel front group-backed, and on the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow’s (CFACT)’s website. Groups have also cited his false and misleading claims to the costs of wind energy which has fallen dramatically in the past year. He has also attacked wind energy projects in op-eds in media outlets, most recently in the Huron Daily Tribune. It was reported that Kevon Martis was an attendee at a secret anti-wind meeting spearheaded by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute in 2013. The documents uncovered by Energy & Policy Institute’s Gabe Elsner showed for the first time that local anti-wind groups were coordinating and working with national fossil fuel-funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry.

We directly asked Kevon Martis if the IICC or any affiliated group donated funds to the Lincoln Township defense fund and he responded that they had not. 

The Bottom Line

As predicted , it’s clear that Huron County is now a front line action with respect to renewable wind energy in the Great Lakes region. However now the question comes into play is the amount of resources and outside pressure will play in the further development of Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.  There is a real concern if Huron County is being “used” as a firewall effort by powerful billionaire outsiders like the the Koch Brother’s as part of their larger effort of stopping the progress of wind energy in the Great Lakes Region?

We are still looking into the source of the Lincoln Township $1,100 defense fund donation. 

Protest in Style

If you’re part of a group that is running up against a big wind project ThumbWind-no_wind11Mercantile can help. We have started creating unique T Shirts that can give your group the united high visibility impact message that gets attention. We have created shirts for those in Ontario Shores, New York, Henry County Indiana, Vermont the Jersey Shore and many others.  no_wind10

If you want to create a one-of-a-kind shirt, sweatshirt or hoodie for your group we can help. We can design and start producing your custom T’s in 24 hours with delivery in about 1 week.

We can also do decals for your signs, vehicles, mailings or to hand out to supporters blow_me

Visit our shop,  to check out our current designs or email us at for more information about volume discounts and custom design work.

protest_bid-_windDiscounts are available for purchases of 2 or more protest T’s along with free shipping for spends of $50 or more.

You’re not in this alone. ThumbWind-Mercantile can help


Bad Axe Almost Lost Its Name

By 1900 place names in the Thumb had reached a high degree of stability and permanence. Unsuccessful efforts to change the name of Bad Axe were made prior to 1900 and again in 1907 and in 1909.

A score of new names were suggested, including Hubbard, Axworthy, Huronia, Huron and Huron City. In 1907 William Lyon Phelps, a well-known professor of Yale University, supported the proposal to change the name. The Detroit Free Press defended the name, saying in an editorial, “Publicity is being given to a movement at Bad Axe to change the name of the town. Euphony is desirable … in geographical nomenclature, but characteristic, distinctive qualities are also desirable. With our Wayne’s and our Newport’s and Marshalls … we can’t spare our Bad Axe just yet from the Michigan map … If an effort to substitute something commonplace and hackneyed and stale for Bad Axe should be successful, who knows but some might want to change the name of Kalamazoo or of Ypsilanti.”*

In 1909 the state legislature changed the name of Bad Axe to Huron subject to a referendum of the voters of the city. No election to ratify the change in name was ever held because the Common Council of the city took the position that it was definitely known how the vote would result, and this being true, an election costing about one hundred dollars would be a needless expense. As far as the writer knows, the only place that changed its name after 1900 was Poverty Nook, which was renamed Hemans in 1914 for the Michigan historian, Lawton T. Hemans.

How did Bad Axe, the only town in the world with this name, get its appellation? In the spring of 1861 George Willis Pack and Rudolph Papst were laying out a road from Bay City to Sand Beach. At a place where a road ran north and south they found a broken, rusty axe embedded in a tree. They called the intersection Bad Axe Corners, which was later shortened to Bad Axe.

*Detroit, Free Press, May 25, 1907.

Excerpt from A HISTORY OF MICHIGAN’S THUMB by Gerard Schultz 1964. P 70

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