Early in February, Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center and the University of Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute received $1.34 million in state grants to explore the feasibility of offshore wind turbines on Lake Michigan.
Although this study is not yet even off the ground, Scandia Wind and Havgul Clean Energy have already jumped beyond feasibility to propose a massive offshore wind farm. Green Beat notes that Great Lakes wind farms are failing the NIMBY test. The Michigan Policy Network notes that in a rare display of timeliness, a pair of bills are attempting to address industrial wind power in the Great Lakes:
In Michigan, one of our most promising options for renewable energy is electricity generating wind turbines. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Michigan has the potential for 16,560 Megawatts of wind energy, making us the biggest stakeholder in wind energy east of the Mississippi River. Despite that fact, we lag far behind many other eastern states in actual installed capacity. Why is that? Wind energy will last as long as the earth’s atmosphere is in place, emits no greenhouse gases, and the average wind turbine generates enough electricity to ‘pay back’ its energy cost of production and transportation in a few months. What’s not to like?
Well, wind energy happens to be generated with turbines on top of very tall towers, with rotor diameters often measuring 100 meters across. These turbines stick out in a natural landscape like a sore thumb, and create considerable noise. They have also been proven to kill birds and bats which fly into the rapidly spinning rotors…
Policy makers are now scrambling to lay down guidelines for how this rapidly expanding industry will be regulated. Senate bill 1067 compels the Michigan public service commission to create rules and procedures for the permitting, site selection, and fee regulation of offshore wind farms. A key piece of this legislation is â€˜the preservation of the public trust in lands and waters of the Great Lakes’, which means that the needs and wants of wind energy developers must not infringe on the needs and wants of the rest of the Lake’s stakeholders. That includes the tourism industry and the cottage owners who bought their property with an unobstructed view of Lake Michigan in mind. House bill 5761 amends the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to provide for a public notice and comment/review process before any aspect of wind farm infrastructure can be developed. In this way, the public has a venue in which to voice their concerns with any proposed wind farm development.
mLive has a lot more about the controversy and legislation. Check it out and let us know what you think about this in the comments. One thing is certain: We’ll be hearing a whole lot about wind power in the Great Lakes in 2010.
The photos above are from the Lillgrund Wind Farm, the third largest wind farm in the world which generates .33 Terawatts per year. Have a look at axelivarsson’s slideshow, and consider that the wind farm proposed one off Ludington would be almost 5 times that size.