A Michigan wind energy project that was scheduled to include 49 wind turbines has been halted. A recent local referendum rejected the plan to build the turbines on land owned by the Winfield Township. The project was backed by renewable energy systems, a global developer. But local tribes opposed it, citing its threat to hunting and fishing access.
Although the project was ultimately shelved, it was not for lack of enthusiasm. The developers wanted to erect wind turbines in 11 townships in Montcalm County, but the local boards had to approve the project. The group didn’t need all of the townships to build the turbines, but they did need enough of them to create a critical mass.
The referendum failed a landslide in August, with three pro-wind incumbents losing to anti-wind challengers on the same day. And in Sidney Township, a pro-wind trustee was recalled in May for supporting the project. The local community has come apart, with anti-wind residents accusing pro-wind residents of corruption and lies.
The Michigan wind energy project has been shelved due to the uncertainty surrounding the state’s economic climate. The project was in its early stages of development, with DTE talking to the local community and getting easement agreements from landowners. The size and number of turbines would have been determined by that time.
After the skepticism about the project started, a concerned resident started a Facebook group to discuss the issue. It grew to over 3,000 members, and residents spread the word about township meetings. Signs appeared in lawns protesting the wind turbines, and residents bought matching T-shirts to wear to town meetings. At the meetings, the anti-wind activists roared and shouted against pro-wind speakers.
Meanwhile, there has been a big push for wind energy in the past decade. Wind turbines are now being installed across the country. There are now over 66,000 wind turbines in 41 states. These turbines are more than capable of producing electricity, and their cost has dropped by 47% over the last decade. With the new technology and American-based manufacturing, wind energy is the cheapest source of new electricity in many parts of the country.
Some critics say that wind turbines are harmful to wildlife. They say they ruin the scenic view. According to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, about 92% of people within 5 miles of wind turbines report positive experiences. However, this research is not conclusive, and no studies have been conducted to prove that wind turbines are harmful to birds.