Pentwater council votes no on proposed wind farm

9:37 AM, Feb 10, 2010   |    comments
Map of proposed Lake Michigan wind turbines.
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PENTWATER, Mich. (Ludington Daily News)- Pentwater village councilors made their voice known.

When it comes to the offshore wind turbines proposed by Scandia/Havgul Clean Energy 1.4 to 3.7 miles from the area's shoreline, the answer is no.

The village council voted unanimously Monday to reject the wind farm project. The resolution, drawn up by Councilman Tom Sturr, voices the community's concerns for the introduction of projects of similar scope and location in Lake Michigan waters, how it may affect migratory bird routes, fish populations and feeding grounds, and admitted lack of turbine construction foundation experience with Lake Michigan wave and ice floes.

The final paragraph of the resolution reads: "Therefore be it resolved that the Pentwater Village Board strongly indicates its objection to, and its rejection of the Wind Farm Project proposed by Scandia Wind LLC with Havgul Clean Energy."

"I think it's important to act on this as soon as possible so they know where we stand," he said.

Scandia and Havgul are proposing construction of 100 to 200 wind turbines on 100 square miles of Lake Michigan bottomlands off the shore of southern Mason County and northern Oceana County. Company officials are seeking support for the plan from governments in that area, which includes Pentwater.

Village President Juanita Pierman said the village has received about 70 letters from people concerned about the proposal.

"Fifteen came from property owners in the village, 45 were from non-property owners from Hart, Shelby, Ludington and other areas. Ten came via e-mail. Most were not in support of the wind farm project, though two were in favor of it."

Scandia Wind's Steve Warner was not surprised by the action. "It was not any sort of departure from what we might anticipate from them," he told the Daily News this morning.

"We certainly acknowledge it, we respect it, but we will also try and sit down with them and discuss it, like we will with all the governmental entities in the footprint (of the proposal)," Warner said.

"We haven't made a decision whether one defecting entity is going to derail our approach to it," he said.

The companies will be looking at the municipalities' actions "in the aggregate," Warner said.

He's hoping to schedule times to meet with municipal boards in the near future to talk about the size and shape of the proposed project as well as a community trust, a fund set up for a portion of the wind turbine project's profits to benefit the area. The governmental units have had some time now to receive feedback from residents, Warner said.

"That's been part of our thought process from the beginning," Warner said. As the companies learn more about how much they may have to pay in royalties to the state if the project is approved, it is better able to negotiate "a fair community trust," he said.

Warner also is available to meet formally with a group, such as Rotary clubs and Chambers of Commerce and informally "for coffee and conversation," he said.

The Downtown Merchants Association of Pentwater also made its voice known recently, with the majority of those polled, 32 people, stating they are against the proposal, two undecided and one in favor of it. Eighteen people did not respond.

"For those of you who do not know us, we are the merchants in the C3 District (downtown commercial district) in Pentwater. Every merchant within the district is a member of our group, whether they care to participate or not is their own choice," Mike Castor, association board chair, stated in an e-mail Monday. "We are the economic heart of the Village of Pentwater. We have spoken."


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