WUOMFM

wind turbines

wind turbines
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Construction of a Consumers Energy wind turbine project in Michigan is expected to start three years ahead of schedule.

The Michigan Public Service Commission on Thursday approved the Jackson-based utility's proposal to begin work in 2019 instead of 2022 on Cross Winds Energy Park III in Tuscola County.

In 2016, the commission approved the utility's plan to buy 19 wind turbine generators for its Cross Winds Energy Park II and an option to buy 33 more for the future Cross Winds Energy Park III.

A wind turbine above a barn
jettajet / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The state of Michigan’s renewable energy mandate requires energy providers to supply 15% of electricity from renewable sources by 2022. So far, all of Michigan’s providers are on track to meet that goal.

Wind energy has been a big part of that success. In Michigan’s Thumb, which includes Huron, Tuscola, and Sanilac Counties, wind farms have become a part of the landscape.

But wind energy is also facing resistance in that part of the state. In early May, voters in Huron County, where there are 475 wind turbines in operation, rejected proposals to allow the development of two new wind farms.

wind turbines
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DTE is looking to focus its wind energy development beyond Huron County after voters there rejected proposals to expand the number of wind turbines in their county.

Huron County has more wind turbines that any other county in Michigan. That's thanks to the favorable winds that make that part of the Thumb ideal for wind energy projects.  

But on Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly rejected two proposals to add dozens more. One of the proposals would have let DTE erect up to 70 additional wind turbines.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

On May 2 Ann Arbor voters approved a new millage that will be used to renovate the city's public schools. The millage will raise more than $200 million over 10 years. The majority of the money will be used to repair infrastructure on all 32 of the city's school buildings. The rest will be used for playgrounds, athletic facilities and additional classroom space.

More than 70% of voters in Ypsilanti approved the Ypsilanti Community School's operating millage proposal. It will provide about $9 million annually, which the school district can use for employee salaries and curriculum.

people in voting booths
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Last night (May 2) voters in Ann Arbor and Kent County approved funding for schools. Two proposals that would have allowed the construction of wind farms spanning several townships in Huron County were defeated.

'Wind farm' takes on a new, and for some uncomfortable' meaning in Huron County
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The future of wind turbines in Huron County goes before voters Tuesday.

The county already has the largest number of turbines in Michigan, with 475 turbines already operating.   

Tuesday’s ballot questions would open the door to another hundred or more.

That’s not what farmer Robert Gaffke wants.  

He raises cattle and sheep on his 200-acre organic farm in Port Hope.    Gaffke doesn’t have any turbines on his property, but says the turbines are slowly spilling across the property line on his neighbor’s land.   The blades make a noticeable wooshing sound.

Wind turbine
Ken Whytock / Flickr

Two birding groups have filed suit to block the Ohio National Guard from building a commercial-scale wind turbine along the shore of western Lake Erie.

The American Bird Conservancy and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory of Ohio filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington. They say the Ohio Air National Guard’s wind turbine project at Camp Perry, less than a mile from the Lake Erie shoreline, has already violated the Endangered Species Act and other environmental regulations.

bat with white nose syndrome
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's hard out here for a bat.

Especially if it's a bat in Michigan, according to Detroit News reporter Charles E. RamirezHe writes that the three biggest threats to bat populations are: "disease-causing fungus, wind turbines and loss of habitat."

WARRENSKI / CREATIVE COMMONS

OTTAWA, Ohio (AP) - Whirlpool Corp. says it's installing wind turbines to help power two more of its factories in Ohio.

  The appliance maker based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, says it will spend $13.5 million to bring wind energy to its plants in Ottawa and Marion.

  Whirlpool says the 1.5-megawatt turbines are the same design as those built at its Findlay factory.

  The company says anticipates the wind turbine should help offset electricity consumption by 34 percent at its Ottawa plant that makes freezers.

Lansing Board of Water and Light facility
Steve Carmody / MIchigan Radio

Lansing utility officials are weighing a plan that could greatly increase their reliance on alternative energy.

The Lansing Board of Water & Light will soon have to shut down three coal-fired power plants. The plant produce about 80% of the utility’s electricity. 

A panel is recommending BWL replace the electricity from three soon-to-close coal plants with power from wind, solar and natural gas.

A wind turbine in the Garden Wind Farm in the Upper Peninsula.
Garden Wind Farm Project

GARDEN, Mich. - Eleven people who live near the first wind farm in Michigan's Upper Peninsula say the whir of turbines has reduced property values, diminished their sleep and put birds at risk.

They filed a lawsuit last week in federal court against Heritage Sustainable Energy and the U.S. government, seeking to block expansion and require more study on the impacts.

Kim Hansen / Flickr

As recently as a couple of months ago, construction of a wind farm in Lake Erie, off the Ohio shoreline near Cleveland, looked promising. But now some are sounding the death knell for any wind development in the Great Lakes. 

The Department of Energy estimates the country has an offshore wind capacity of four million megawatts. That’s four times the generating capacity of all U.S. electric power plants.

Michigan was among a handful of states working with federal agencies a few years ago to speed up the development of wind farms off the shores of the Great Lakes. 

Wind energy developer Lorry Wagner says leaders started looking toward the energy sector to create more jobs. He says that’s when they realized the region’s potential for offshore wind energy.

“The real resource is in the lake. And the reason for that is you get about three times the energy due to the higher wind speeds and less turbulence than you do on land," he says.

Carleton College

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Federal officials have put a stop to plans for a wind turbine along Lake Erie in northern Ohio.

The decision comes just weeks after a group of birding enthusiasts threatened to sue the Ohio National Guard over the wind turbine project at the guard's Camp Perry site near Port Clinton.

The American Bird Conservancy and Black Swamp Bird Observatory say National Guard officials in Washington sent out a letter this past week announcing it was pulling out of the project.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Gratiot County Wind Farm has 133 wind turbines scattered over more than 30,000 acres. It's the largest wind farm in Michigan. Each 1.6 megawatt wind turbine can generate enough power for 350 homes.

And this is what it sounds like when you stand directly beneath a wind turbine that stretches more than 450 feet into the sky with the wind blowing between 10 to 15 mph.

(Listen below - You can hear the turbine slow down - I think it's neat, but I'm a nerd.)