Ottawa to hear wind farm proposal

June 11, 2010
| By Pete Daly |
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A Minnesota wind farm developer will hold a public forum at Grand Haven High School Wednesday evening to outline a tentative proposal to erect from 50 to 100 large wind turbines six miles out in Lake Michigan, off Ottawa and Muskegon counties.

The developer, Scandia Wind Offshore, has coordinated the 7 p.m. public forum through Ottawa County and the city of Grand Haven, according to SWO CEO Steve Warner.

Warner said the actual number of turbines at the wind farm would depend on the size selected. The  company is considering a range of turbine sizes that can generate from five up to 10 megawatts of peak power — far larger than any turbines already erected in Michigan. The nacelles, which house the generator and the hub the turbine blades are mounted on, would be about 100 meters above the water, according to Warner.

SWO suffered a setback last week when Mason County commissioners voted 9-1 against a resolution that would have accepted, in principle, the visual impact of a commercial wind farm four miles out from the Mason County shoreline.

Because of that vote, Warner said his company has scaled back its original proposal to a smaller wind farm that would be off Oceana County alone, comprising 30 to 60 turbines. He said he will be going to Oceana County planners to discuss the smaller concept.

Pentwater, a Lake Michigan resort community in Oceana County, is the home of an opposition group that has advertised heavily and lobbied against the Scandia proposal for an offshore wind farm since it first came up in December.

The Muskegon area may be more receptive to SWO’s wind farm proposals, however. In early May the Michigan Great Lakes Wind Council held a public forum at Muskegon Community College, where wireless voting equipment showed that 62 percent of the attendees favored the concept of offshore wind farms.

The Offshore Wind Council is working on language it will recommend for proposed new laws concerning the leasing of state Great Lakes bottomlands and the regulation of offshore wind farms.  State Sen. Patty Birkholz, R-Saugatuck, was at the May public forum and will be involved in the legislation.

In addition to the offshore wind farm concept, SWO has also proposed a wind farm at the Muskegon County Wastewater Treatment Facility.

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