Huron County, Michigan – A new draft of wind zoning regulations has been quietly circulated among key wind energy companies hoping to start new projects in Michigan’s Thumb region. Wind developers are howling at the proposed new restrictions. A proposed rewrite of the wind regulations tripled the size of the zoning regs and includes provisions to clamp down on problems with noise, sun flicker and setbacks to homes and sensitive areas
Early comments from the developers were less then positive. The Huron Daily Tribune reported that Dan Ettinger, a Grand Rapids attorney for NextEra, said the changes are neither legal nor enforceable.“You essentially would be banning commercial wind development in Huron County,” DTE’s Matt Wagner said, “Honestly, one of our concerns is that those ordinance changes are so significant that they, for all intents and purposes, zone the turbines out of Huron County,”
The county currently has a moratorium on new wind projects while the new zoning language is being drafted. All wind projects have been halted for a period of six months. Its unclear if the moratorium will be extended if the zoning language is not completed.
Recent referendums have put wind projects in Huron county on the defensive. On May 5th voters in Huron’s Meade Township effectively halted a $214 million DTE wind project to place up to 58 wind turbines in Meade, Colfax and Chandler townships. This trend is being seen in other areas of the county as residents consider the effects of industrial wind energy projects in their communities.