Author Note: This post received a tremendous response last year. Since that time the political mood in Huron county has changed to be more cautious of Big Wind projects. Set back and sound restrictions have put a damper on many future projects. We would like to hope that we had something to do with this new attitude. This is a repost from April 2105.
In only a few short years, Huron County Michigan went from a sleepy rural county internationally known for its navy beans and sugar beets to the premier wind energy and animal product producer in Michigan. Hundreds of wind turbines dot the county primarily along the western edge facing Saginaw Bay. Wind and Factory Farms have changed the landscape and threatens to permanently change the culture of this agricultural and tourist area north of Detroit. Currently, there are over 300 wind turbines in place. If plans continue at the current rate, Huron County will become dense industrial energy corridor consisting of over 1200 wind turbines over 300-foot tall converting wind for an energy-hungry economy. In addition, industrial farming has taken over the community with at least 21 factory farms holding in estimated 800,000 animals in production with 24×7 operations. The most in Michigan.
Wind energy and CAFOs have radically changed the landscape of the Upper Thumb. Traveling up Pinnebog Road off of M-53 I always enjoyed my first glimpse of the sunset of a Friday night as we neared our cottage after a long week working in Detroit. Those memories are gone. Between the smell of the CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and the Wind Turbines the remote nature of the Upper Thumb’s interior is now under the consistent glare of lights, and towers. The eye burning stench of holding ponds with tons of manure from the 1000’s of penned up animals is more prevalent than ever. These are not your idealistic 4-H farms, but industrial operations. The publication, Food & Water Watch, classify Huron County is one of the few extreme areas in the nation for factory farms.
Huron County is located at the northern tip of Michigan’s Thumb and is surrounded on three sides by water – Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. With over 90 miles of shoreline tourism from nearby Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw. Huron County’s most important industry is agriculture, as with most of the other Thumb counties. However, this designation will undoubtedly change was this area becomes an industrial wind energy zone with over 1600 Mega Watts of electricity produced annually.
This change is not limited to the Upper Thumb. Now, this same industrial push is happening in Logan County Ohio, Henry County Indiana and other areas of the Great Lakes region.