Menu

Delta County Wind Monitor

Advocating for Residents in Wind Turbine Zones

alt

Garden Peninsula Residents bring suit against Delta County & Heritage Sustainable Energy

Garden Peninsula residents have filed a suit in the Michigan Court of Appeals challenging the Delta County Planning Commission's decision to permit an additional 35 turbines on the Garden Peninsula. 

IN SUMMARY

On October 24, 2017, Heritage filed its application for site plan review and 40 applications for 40 wind turbines and paid 40 $1,500 application fees. The original site plan included modifications to siting based on open house input, close collaboration with hosting landowners and micro-siting.

The Planning Commission held separate public hearings on December 4, 2017 and December 12, 2017 on each of the 40 applications for special use permit. The Delta County Zoning Ordinance allows interested parties at public hearing to present and rebut information either supporting or opposing the zoning action under consideration.

In early January, 2018, Heritage filed updated materials depicting the removal of 4 turbine sites and slight micro-siting adjustments to 8 other sites made in response to public comments received during the December 4 and 12, 2017 public hearings. In its January 3, 2018 letter, Heritage confirmed its discussions with the Planning Commission that the scale of Appendix I and Appendix V “are provided in accordance with the requirements of Section 701-1(C.2), which requires that a site plan ‘be drawn to a readable scale.’” Also enclosed, at the request of the Zoning Administrator, were additional visual simulations demonstrating “that the proposed wind turbine generators are of similar design, size and appearance throughout the project as required by the Delta County Zoning Ordinance Section 701- 5(G.1).” Also, as requested by the Zoning Administrator, was a map of the proposed project substation on 13th Road drawn to a 40’ = 1” scale. R-15.

Heritage’s applications were discussed and further information and public comment was received at a Planning Commission meeting on January 15, 2018.

On January 30, 2018, Heritage filed additional materials in response to concerns voiced by a Planning Commission member regarding bird safety at a January 2018 Planning Commission meeting.

The Planning Commission considered Heritage’s 36 applications at meetings on January 23, 2018 and February 5, 2018.  Prior to approving the conditional use permits, the Planning Commission prepared and completed a worksheet in which it listed and evaluated separately each and every requirement in Sections 503, 504, 701-1, 701-2, 701-3, 701-5 and 701-6 and concluded:

“The Planning Commission has reviewed all documents found in file 11-17-PC. It has also considered comments received at Public Hearing. All sections of the zoning have been addressed in the application and it was found that the application is sufficient to issue conditional use permits for the 36 turbine sites as described in the application. All conditions of Delta County Ordinance 76-2 shall be met prior to commencement of the use.”

The resolutions of the Planning Commission pursuant to which the conditional use permits were approved were specifically conditioned on “if all applicable permits are approved.” 

Pursuant to those resolutions, 36 permits for conditional use were issued by the Zoning Administrator and the Chair of the Delta County Planning Commission on April 3, 2018. Each of the permits for conditional use issued by the Planning Commission was for a distinct turbine and authorized a utility grid wind energy system land use on a separate and specific property description for that turbine. Each of the 36 conditional use permits contained the following conditions and restrictions:

“All conditions found in Delta County Zoning Ordinance 76-2 that are applicable to Utility Grid Wind Energy System. Construction and operation shall be in accordance with all submitted application documents, file 11-17-PC. All applicable permits, State and Federal, shall be obtained as required.”

Residents of the Garden Peninsula are appealing this decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

WHY THE APPEAL?

The Delta County Planning Commision’s granting of these applications was in error, because the applications submitted by Heritage failed to comply with the requirements of the Delta County Zoning Ordinance, specifically:

  • Section 503: This section requires that every site plan shall be “drawn to a scale not smaller than 40 feet to the inch.” The site plan maps provided with the Applications do not comply with requirement; they are at a scale of 1500 feet to an inch.

  • Section 701-5(G)1. This section requires that “[a] project shall be constructed using wind energy systems of similar design, size, operation and appearance through the project.” The wind turbines in Heritage’s proposed Project have differing heights and blade lengths.

  • Section 503-1(E). This section requires that the site plan set forth “[t]he location, height and dimensions of all existing and proposed structures.” The Applications do not set forth the height and dimensions of the proposed substations or the sound barriers for the substations for the Project.

  • Section 503-1(F). This section requires that the site plan set forth “[t]he location, grades and dimensions of all temporary and permanent on-site and access roads . . . .” The Applications do not set forth the grades or dimensions of the proposed access roads. Furthermore, the Applications acknowledge that the final locations of access roads to the turbines have not yet been determined.

  • Section 503-1(G). This section requires that the site plan identify “[a]ll new infrastructure above ground.” The Applications do not identify all wires, poles, and transmission equipment for the Project. They do not identify turbine collection lines.

  • Section 701-5(E)2.a. This section provides that “[t]he site plan and other documents and drawings shall show mitigation measures to minimize potential impacts on the natural environment including, but not limited to wetlands and other fragile ecosystems, [and] historical and cultural sites . . . .” The Preliminary Environmental Desk Review attached to the Applications (Appendix VII) fails to set forth the mitigation efforts that Heritage is committed to take to minimize potential Project impacts on wetlands.

  • Section 701-5(E)2.b.4. This section provides that the Applications must “[c]omply with applicable parts of the Michigan Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act . . . including but not limited to: . . . 4. Part 303 Wetlands.” The Applications do not indicate that Heritage has obtained a pre-application permit from the MDEQ for the effects the Project will have on wetlands within the Project area, in compliance with the NREPA, despite the fact that Heritage’s own environmental expert acknowledges that Heritage is likely to need such a permit before the project can proceed.

  • Section 701-6(B). This section provides that the Applications must include a “visual impact simulation showing the completed site as proposed on the submitted site plan. The visual impact simulation shall be from four viewable angles.” (emphasis added). The Applications fail to show visual simulations for the turbines at each of the proposed turbine sites.

  • Section 701-5(G)1. This section provides that the Applications must include “a shadow flicker analysis at occupied structures” and that “[t]he site plan shall identify problem areas where shadow flicker may affect the occupants and show measures that will be taken to eliminate or mitigate the problems.” (Emphasis added). Heritage’s shadow flicker analysis, Appendix X, reveals that more than 25 “non-participating” residences, under a “worst-case” scenario, may experience more than 30 hours of shadow flicker per year, in direct violation of the 30-hour limit set forth in Zoning Ordinance section 701-5(G)(3). The Applications contain absolutely no plan to eliminate or mitigate this illegal level of shadow flicker.

  • Section 701-5(B). This section requires that turbine sound pressure levels not exceed 45 dB(A) measured at an existing dwelling.This Section also states that “[t]he sound pressure shall not exceed either 55 dB(A) measured at the property lines or the lease unit boundary, whichever is farther from the source of the noise ...for more than 3 minutes in any hour of the day.” The sound modelling included in the Applications (Appendix VI) did not comply with these requirements. The parameters used for the noise modelling at the homes assumed low temperatures and low humidity. Moreover, the sound modelling did not include any modelling of sound at the property lines, as required. (Appendix VI, p 4). Furthermore, there is a 3 dB margin of error for noise propagation calculations under the ISO 9613-2 methodology used by Heritage. Thus there may be at least 23 residences at which the turbine noise level will exceed 45 dB(A), in violation of this noise limit.

  • Section 701-6(A). Section 701-6 (A) states "...The noise modeling and analysis shall conform to IEC 61400 and ISO 9613...in the most current version [emphasis added] of ANSI S12.18." The most current version of ISO 9613 was updated in 2015. The Applications used/cited to the ISO 9613 from 1996, which is over 20 years old. (Appendix VI-Sound Modelling, page 16). Moreover, ISO 9613 assumes that the noise source for noise propagation modeling is 30 meters (98.4 feet). But Heritage’s wind turbines are at least 499 feet tall. At that much greater height, the noise from Heritage’s turbines will travel farther, and be louder, than predicted by ISO 9613 under the assumptions of that model.

  • Section 701-5 (G)(2). This section requires that the Applications include an Avian and Wildlife Impact Analysis that includes a site plan and other documents and drawings showing appropriate mitigation measures to minimize potential impacts of the wind turbine project on avian and wildlife. Heritage’s Avian and Wildlife Impact Analysis fails to address the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s warning to Heritage that the construction of wind turbines where Heritage proposes to site them pursuant to its Applications “represents high exposure and potential for [migratory bird] collision mortalities.” 

Residents Band Together

Please contact us and join in the fight to right the wrongs that have taken place in Garden Township and Delta County with regard to the wind turbines. Let's work together to come up with a plan that everyone can live with.

We are Concerned Citizens Like You

Concerned Citizens of Delta County educates the public and monitors and holds government and corporate entities accountable with relation to the construction and operation of Wind Energy Systems in Delta County. We are seeking the input of residents and property owners of Delta County regarding wind turbines. More...

WIND TURBINE REMORSE

Huron County Michigan Looks for Ways to Cap Growth of Wind Energy Development.

Life here is ‘living nightmare’

Michigan Wind Farm Michigan Wind Farm

This was the headline that greeted Huron Daily Tribune news readers in early March. Residents are becoming  dismayed over the number and affect that 100’s of wind turbines have had in the tip of the Thumb. Residents are voicing increasing concerns about the 328 turbines now in place. Margo Barry who lives in Oliver Township noted that “… pristine farm fields are gone, and in place is a blight of huge white towers and spinning blades, and our quality of life has been taken away, replaced with a pollution of never-ending noise, shadow flicker, red blinking lights and health issues for many.”

Beyond the aesthetics there are new safety concerns. In February a 160-foot, 7-ton turbinewind turbine blade broke during high winds, leaving it dangling and wrapped around the tower. A few days later a 425 foot turbine collapsed in Oliver Township during a snow storm. The owner, Exelon Wind Generation noted it was only the second failure of this kind of turbine over a total global installed base of 7,000 units. The 485,000 pound turbine fell while in an idle state in the early morning hours of February 25th. No one was injured.

Development continues of adding up to 140 turbines in the county over the next 18 months. An attorney representing Huron County has begun the investigation of limiting the number of turbines. Also in the Thumb, three Sanilac County townships recently approved a moratorium or rejected wind energy ordinances. A fourth, Bridgehampton Township, is exploring a moratorium.

Current Wind Energy Projects Planned in 2016
30 turbines in Winsor and McKinley townships
72 turbines in Dwight, Lincoln and Huron townships.
10 turbines in Rubicon Township
30 turbines in Oliver, Chandler and Colfax townships.

Heritage Faces Suit...After Suit....After Suit

Michigan wind developer faces lawsuit over U.P. project

In a small community on the southern coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a 28 MW wind farm remains a focus of dispute among landowners, some of whom are bringing the developer into yet another lawsuit over claims about noise.

Traverse City-based Heritage Sustainable Energy’s wind project in Garden Township, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the subject of a lawsuit filed this month in federal court in Marquette. It’s the second suit against the company in a year. Heritage settled a case out of court over six months ago when residents near its Stoney Corners Wind Farm in the Lower Peninsula alleged it was causing health problems.

Read more....

Upper Peninsula wind turbines will kill eagles, other protected species, lawsuit says

By John Agar | jagar@mlive.com on February 05, 2015 at 7:45 AM, updated March 16, 2015 at 3:26 PM

DELTA COUNTY, MI - Some residents of Garden Peninsula, a scenic Upper Peninsula community on Lake Michigan's northern shore, say power-generating turbines have hurt their quality of life and will kill birds, including eagles and other protected species, on migratory routes.

The residents and Garden Peninsula Foundation have filed a federal lawsuit against Traverse City-based Heritage Sustainable Energy seeking damages and asking that the project, with 14 turbines, be re-evaluated or abandoned. They are also trying to stop expansion.

Read more...

Eagle spotted in turbine zone

This eagle feasts on the carcass of a deer just yards from Turbines G12 and G8 in the Garden Wind Farm on April 8, 2015. 

Falmouth Turbines Determined to Acoustically Trespass into Resident's Home

CONCLUSIONS

The methods used herein allowed for the collection of infrasonic sound pressure levels within the inside of the Andersen residence. As shown in Figure 6, there is a readily identifiable acoustic signature that can be definitively attributable to Wind #1 and possibly Wind #2 located outside the Andersen home. To NCE’s knowledge, this is the first time such measurements have been performed and reported with respect to the Falmouth wind turbines. However, this is not the first time such measurements have been performed, and other researchers have collected low frequency infrasonic acoustic signatures at other wind turbine sites in Wisconsin and Australia (references 11, 12). As reported in these other studies, the same blade passage rate infrasound and harmonic shown inside the Andersen home have been identified.

Given NCE’s signature analysis and the dramatic change in this acoustic signature when the wind turbine(s) are shut down, NCE can unequivocally state that the infrasonic signature captured inside the Andersen residence is 100% attributable to either one or both of the Town of Falmouth Wind Turbines. To put the conclusions more commonly, this study finds that the wind turbine(s) produce acoustic emissions which are acoustically trespassinginto the Andersen home. 

Read Full Report

Wind Turbine Timeline Reveals Industry Negligence

Green Bay Area: Brown County health officials declare wind turbines a public health risk

Brown County health officials have declared wind turbines a public health risk, but they haven't determined how to put their declaration into action.

The county's Health Board this month declared the Shirley Wind Farm operated by Duke Energy Renewables poses a health risk to its neighbors in the town of Glenmore. Three families have moved out of their homes rather than endure physical illness they blame on the low-frequency noise the wind turbines generate, according to Audrey Murphy, president of the board that oversees the Brown County Health Department.

"We struggled with this but just felt we needed to take some action to help these citizens," Murphy said. 

Read More...

DUKE ENERGY's Shirley Wind Turbines Declared a "HUMAN HEALTH HAZARD"

 DENMARK, WI - At the October 14, 2014 Brown County Board of Health meeting, a motion was unanimously approved declaring the Shirley Wind turbines a "Human Health Hazard". The text of the unanimously approved motion reads:

"To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines at Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County, WI. A Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health." 

Read More...

Safety

The manufacturer's recommended minimum safety clearance for a 495-foot tall wind turbine is 1640 feet. Right now, more than 22 families in Garden Township are living in the "runaway turbine" zone. Don't let this happen to your neighborhood.  More...

Setbacks greater than 5 times the height of the full turbine can help preserve peaceful rural settings and keep our residents safe. 

Noise

Zoning in Delta County will allow the next phase of wind turbines to operate at levels up to 55 decibels. 

Too loud!

For rural settings, which are found throughout Delta County, acoustic experts recommend a 35 decibel maximum

Tell your Delta County Board representative to preserve the peaceful settings in our townships by requiring a 35 decibel maximum for turbine operations as measured at a property line of a non-leasholder. More...

Health

 

Sleep deprivation and other health issues can be side-effects of wind turbines that operate above  the recommended decibel limits. More...

                                      

Where will the next phase be built?

alt

Yellow highlighted areas show leaseholder land.alt

alt

Video of June 2014 Wind Energy Presentation in Delta County