This is a look back at the events that took place leading to the forced removal of two long standing commissioners from the Lake Township Michigan planning board in 2009. Both individuals were noted as taking a hard line with the way wind energy was being zoned and allowed into the township.
The article from the Huron Daily Tribune and the subsequent comments by local readers serve as a record of the political atmosphere during the initial debate over the direction of wind energy in the Upper Thumb. Planning Commission Chairman Louis J. Colletta and Planning Commission Member Tim Lalley where removed from their positions by the Lake Township board.
There remains a high level of contention and debate due to Wind Energy in Lake Township to this day.
ThumbWind.com has completed a survey of current, planned and halted wind projects in the state of Michigan. Information was compiled from published reports and Michigan Public Services Commission, (MPSC). The state of Michigan now has a total of 208 turbines with a capacity of 340 megawatts. Huron County in Michigan’s thumb remains the top provider of wind power with 122 megawatts active in 2011.
Huge Growth in Wind Power
Projects registered with the MPSC shows that an additional 466 wind turbines are planned in 2012 – 2017. Once completed the total capacity will be approximately 1100 megawatts generated by 674 turbines. The entire thumb region, comprised of Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties will be the primary location with of 10 of the 18 industrial wind farms active in Michigan.
Despite Growth Local Hurdles’ Remain
At least three major projects were halted due to local zoning and negative citizen reaction. The Gail Wind Power project being developed by Duke Energy in Benzie County and Manistee County was halted. The project called for over 100 turbines being placed near Arcadia near Lake Michigan. In a press release by Duke Power the company said it will turn its attention to projects in Kansas, Texas and Pennsylvania.
While lagging behind the rest of the country, Michigan is showing strong growth in commercial wind farm projects. A survey of Michigan wind energy projects showed that in 2011 there are 205 turbines producing 340 Megawatts. Estimates of additional wind projects underway look to add another 205 turbines producing 340 Megawatts over the next two years.
ThumbWind.com is finalizing a survey on this growth and will publish its findings in the next few days.
The US Army Corp of Engineers is forecasting lower water levels for Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron. High temperatures coupled with lack of snowfall in the upper Great Lakes are contributing factors to the decline. Lake Superior is expected to continue to face lower water levels from 2011 and is expected to drop another two inches over the next month. Currently lakes Michigan and Huron are 7 inches above the water levels measured in 2011.
NOAA’s National Ice Center is reporting that most of the Great Lakes region has not frozen over and open water is reported on all the lakes except for Lake St. Clair.
Overall the water level of the Great Lakes’ basin continues to approach historic lows. Low water levels in the 1930’s and again in the 1960s was weather related. Will lake levels continue to decline because of evaporation during these warmer winters?