Menu

Delta County Wind Monitor

Advocating for Residents in Wind Turbine Zones

Preserving the best of the U.P.

Dear Editor,

In order for a community to survive its needs must be met. With harsh weather conditions in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan what draws people to the area?

People are drawn to the area because of its uniqueness as seen in its beauty, its strong community unity, its quietness, its abundant wildlife, and its lack of pollution.

By the presence of wind turbines in our area, the survival of our communities are at risk. We have been tremendously saddened by what we have seen and heard from the Garden residents in Delta County who have been robbed of so much because of the turbines.

They, however, if given the proper respect and consideration, can help the rest of the Upper Peninsula to deal with the threats that have come and will continue to come to the whole area. Heritage Sustainable Energy, the wind turbine company in our area, desires to have a 12,000-acre wind farm in northern Michigan.

Many attempts have been made by Schoolcraft County leaders and citizens within the county to protect what we have. Schoolcraft County has sought legal counsel for an ordinance that would protect the welfare of its residents.

To comply with the demands for renewable energy by our state government, the ordinance could not be too restrictive in regard to the placement of the wind turbines. Our county leaders have had great responsibility placed on them.

Concerned citizens have tried to keep informed and to encourage community action as can be seen by numerous signs placed along our major highways in the Cooks area which is in Schoolcraft County. We are concerned for the survival of all in the U.P., not just a select group.

How can any area in the Upper Peninsula survive without residents and/or the tourist trade? It is unique and special and the survival of it is not dependent on a too costly, impractical wind energy source which gives no direct benefit to the vast majority of its residents.

Ron and Carolyn Palmer

Facts deliberately fuzzy for future of garden wind farm

October 1, 2014 Pioneer Tribune

Heritage VP: No definite plans for Garden Wind Farm’s expansion

More turbines desired, but not in progress yet

 

One of the 14 turbines of the Garden Wind Farm is pictured above. While Heritage Sustainable Energy has expressed its desire to expand the wind farm, its vice president of operations said recently that the project is currently at a “stand still” -Pioneer Tribune photo

MANISTIQUE – Despite rumors to the contrary, an official from Heritage Sustainable Energy says there are no definitive plans to erect more turbines on the Garden Peninsula. If, when, and how many turbines will be placed in any second phase of the Garden Wind Farm will be determined in the near future, but for now, the project is at a “standstill”.

The Garden Wind Farm is home to 14 wind turbines, at 295 (s/b 495) feet each, spread over approximately 10,000 acres of land leased from Garden area residents. The project was completed in September 2012. In various documents, such as the contract between downstate Consumer’s Energy and Heritage for power purchase, the wind farm in Garden is referred to as Heritage Garden Wind Farm I, indicating a second phase is planned – eventually.

According to Heritage’s vice president of operations, Rick Wilson, the company has no immediate plans for the construction of more turbines.

“We don’t have any actual on the ground plans whatsoever,” he explained. “We would like to expand – go in either north up into an area we’ve been looking at in Schoolcraft County, north of about the Cooks area … So we’ve been investigating the potential of a future project there, as well as … south of the village of Garden.”

For now, however, the project is at what Wilson referred to as a “stand still."

“We’re obviously always looking for potential opportunities, but we don’t have any plans,” he said.

Some of the delay in planning is due to an update to Schoolcraft County’s wind turbine ordinance, approved by the county’s board of commissioners in June, which, according to Wilson, all but prohibits large-scale wind turbines in the county.

“That ordinance was entirely exclusionary in nature,” he said. “The way the ordinance is currently written doesn’t allow for any turbines of the utility scale to be placed anywhere in the entire county. It doesn’t work, as it is written, for us right now.” 

During a Heritage presentation to the board in mid-June, following the ordinance adoption, Wilson was offered a list of audience questions by Commissioner Dan LaFoille. LaFoille asked that Wilson send answers to the questions back to the board for review.

Neither Wilson nor Heritage responded to the questions, and Wilson explained this was due to the nature of the submission.

“The questions didn’t come from commissioners themselves – they came from seemingly opponents to any wind farm developments, and they weren’t necessarily questions, per se – they were requests for information,’ he said. “We can provide them with facts, but we can’t respond to things that aren’t reasonable in nature.”

Wilson added that he or any other Heritage employee would be willing to answer questions that are “reasonable” and not based in “myth”.

Beside rumors of additional turbines, Heritage has also recently been under scrutiny following claims from the American Bird Conservancy that the Garden Wind Turbines and any future developments are “threatening a major migratory bottleneck for Neotropical breeding birds and raptors” and “triggering serious Endangered Species Act concerns”.

According to Wilson, Heritage is currently completing the final phase of their own seven-year pre- and post-construction bird study, and once that’s complete, they will release all of the “detailed” data from that study.

“In general, I think that we are finding that the previous predictions of potentials for migratory bird fatalities, eagle fatalities, raptor fatalities, that were being made either by the (American) Bird Conservancy or by the (U.S.) Fish and Wildlife Service were grossly overestimated,” he said.

Yard Signs show majority mindset

Dear Editor,

We have seen all the anti-turbine signs in the yards of many people along the highways and roads. The turbines are indeed too tall, too close, and too many in the Garden area and would likewise be in Schoolcraft County. We can also add that they would be too harmful not only for us, but for generations to come.

The argument for the turbines centers around the revenue they will produce. When all factors are considered, their existence in Schoolcraft County will cause much more of a loss than a benefit in revenue for everyone in the county.

We can see the truth of what we write in experiences of the people in Garden who have expressed all the negative issues involved with living around the turbines. The reasons for their moving to the Garden area have been lost. Their way of life has been changed. They cannot properly value their homes nor the land on which it resides. They now desire to move.

The number of residents in an area determines the revenue produced. Residents endure harsh weather for the benefits they receive, which the turbines have destroyed. Many tourists would not be attracted to an area to see turbines and to hear the noise they produce. The land and homes in Schoolcraft County would have far less appeal to residents living here and to anyone desiring to reside in the county with the presence of the over 500-foot wind turbines all over the county.

We want to thank all of you who allowed the anti-turbine signs to be placed in your yards. You have given Schoolcraft County residents hope and unity. We also want to thank all of you who have expressed your anti-turbine concerns to our state representatives. We are not a minority voice who is against the turbines being in our area.

They belong on miles of open, expanses of land, not in Schoolcraft County nor on the Garden Peninsula.

Ron and Carolyn Palmer

Cooks

Turbines impact neighbors

August 22, 2014

Daily Press          

EDITOR:

I don't object to people doing what they want to do with their own property, as long as it doesn't negatively effect the health and welfare of their neighbors.

Regarding the wind turbines, aesthetically I don't object to them individually, and they do provide information regarding wind direction, so you don't have to wet your finger. Unfortunately, however, they do effect the health and welfare of their neighbors, i.e. the noise, strobing effect, reduction in property values, potential underground water disturbance, dangerous winter ice throw, wildlife kill, and attract carnivores in search of the wildlife kill.

I am sorry the lessors (property owners) signed such poor leases and didn't consult attorneys or other turbine companies. It is apparent to me that the lessors have little regard for their neighbors and community.

It is also unfortunate that the community at large gains nothing in return for this invasion.

M. Melissa Smith

Fairbanks Township

Wind turbine response

August 22, 2014

Daily Press

EDITOR:

Recently, a neighboring Cooks farmer wrote a compelling letter regarding a farmer's need to subsidize his/her income (hence why they signed a wind turbine lease with Heritage Energy). Oh, how I can relate to that having been married to a dairy farmer for nine years. Although we had only 80-100 cows to milk twice a day, we had to purchase all of our feed. We both had full-time jobs outside the farm. We also leased out the small corn field since we didn't have the proper equipment to harvest field corn.

One thing that really baffled and surprised me was the farmer that leased our corn field received a government subsidy not to raise corn. Although he received this money, he could still grow a crop called sorghum that is fed to farm animals. So, he received the money not to grow a product then used the same land to produce another feeding crop he sold to farmers. He did this to ensure the field didn't go to weeds. I'm just putting that out there for other farmers to see different ways to supplement their incomes without having to disturb neighbor's rights. In fact, there's a website that list all the subsidies and who receives them: farm.ewg.org/index.php?key=nosign#.U-_TOEqAzn8.email.

Another comment made over the past few months regarding a County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting (April 17, 2012) for the test tower Heritage installed in Cooks two years ago. All three comments noted they were curious why so much opposition now when only six people bothered to show up two years ago for this public hearing. Actually, according to the legal minutes of this meeting, 10 community members plus two Heritage representatives and the Zoning Board members were in attendance. According to the official minutes, when one female community member made a statement about not wanting windmills, she was told "this hearing was for a test tower only, and that her comment did not pertain to this hearing." This was the same answer others received when they inquired about this hearing.

Just to set the record straight. The same people concerned today are the same people who were never given an opportunity to speak up until now...

Another interesting point found in the same official minutes, Heritage's representative stated "that she is the Project Manager for this project and they are asking to install a 60 meter tower to measure wind speed. The equipment will measure wind, and they will set up a base line. They will also consult with DNR, US Fish and Wildlife Services, and attempt to build a relationship with the community to get their feed back." Well, we certainly know how they consulted the US Fish and Wildlife by simply ignoring their guidelines in Garden and another Heritage represented said during the June 2014 County Commissioners meeting that they would do the same in Garden if they had to do it all over again.

As far as building a relationship with the community, I've never had any opportunities to speak my peace until this spring. Many thanks to our county commissioners and Inwood Township officials!

Sandra Brooks

Cooks

Increase wind turbine setbacks

August 13, 2014
Escanaba Daily Press
EDITOR:

Heritage Wind Farm is seeking to expand the industrial wind turbines in Delta County. How much will property value be diminished as a result of wind turbines? At what cost to Delta County? Delta County implemented a 1/4 mile setback for wind turbines as measured from a dwelling. Heritage Wind Energy would have you believe that there is no loss in value to properties neighboring wind turbines. A May 2014 study by McCann Appraisal and Consulting LLC concluded that wind turbine setbacks of less than 2-3 miles are inadequate to avoid significant loss of value, impaired use, and enjoyment of properties neighboring wind turbines. This appraisal used paired data; sales of similar properties in five locations were compared, the difference being proximity to wind turbines (Google McCann Appraisal, Mason County). Wind industry studies used regression analyses. In a regression analysis the data collected can be manipulated to prove whatever the statistician wants. That's why U.S. courts do not allow regression analysis to "disprove" loss of property value due to wind turbine proximity (Google A nail in Hoen's coffin.).

Common sense says that there is significant market resistance to buying property located in the proximity of wind turbines. Sellers are under duress due to noise, health impacts and nuisance of wind turbines. This dramatic loss of property value (25 - 40 percent) will severely impact the property tax revenue collected by Delta County.

Schoolcraft County ordinance requires a distance greater than 3/4 of a mile from property lines preserving the use of property for the landowner and preventing 'inverse condemnation' from occurring, which is the illegal taking of land.

Encourage Delta County commissioners and the Planning Commission to increase setbacks from the shoreline to 3 miles (recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and 3/4 of a mile from property lines. 1/4 mile is too close.

Wind Turbines in Garden

Escanaba Daily Press     

August 7, 2014

EDITOR:

Migrating birds, bats, and eagles are part of the wildlife that depend on this narrow strip of land along Big Bay de Noc. Scott Hicks, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service recommends:

Based on the data currently available, we must once again recommend that you not construct a commercial wind energy development on the Garden Peninsula, because of the high potential for avian mortalities and violations of federal wildlife laws.

Since 2007, our office has expressed significant concerns with this project. Our concerns are based on several factors, including the proximity of the project to a Great Lakes shoreline and Big Bay de Noc, the proximity of the project to adjacent wetland habitats, and the fact that this peninsula will tend to funnel avian migrants and serve as a point of departure or arrival for birds crossing Lake Michigan. (Click for full letter)

Here on the Peninsula, we have all noticed the extreme reduction in the bat population and the dramatic increase in mosquitoes. Some residents have attributed the reduced bat population to white-nose fungus.

But scientists who spoke to the Detroit Free Press as recently as April 11 of this year report that no die-offs due the fungus have occurred yet (although they are expected next year, worsening the problem).

So, what's killing the bats? Discovery News reports:

"Researchers have found the cause behind mysterious bat deaths near wind turbines, in which many bat carcasses appeared uninjured. The explanation to this puzzle is that the bats' lungs effectively blow up from the rapid pressure drop that occurs as air flows over the turbine blades."

Our children's future depends on our care of our small planet. Are we doing our part when we trade 20 years of expensive, unreliable energy for contributing to extinction of migratory birds, Eagles and local bats?

Please encourage the Delta Country Planning Commission and Township Trustees to do their part in protecting our children's future by enacting ordinances for wind turbines that follow scientific environmental recommendations - and federal law.

Susan Mueller

Garden Peninsula

Contact Your Officials

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

310 Ludington Street, Escanaba, MI 49829 Phone: 789-5100

Commissioner District 1 / John Malnar: malnar.john62(at)gmail.com

Commissioner District 2 / Patrick Johnson, Gladstone, pjohnson(at)deltacountymi.org

Commissioner District 3 / Mary K. Harrington, Vice Chairman: mharrington(at)deltacountymi.org

Commissioner District 4 / David J. Moyle: dmoyle(at)chartermi.net / Phone: 235-8427 

Commissioner District 5 / David J. Rivard: koi(at)charter.net

PLANNING COMMISSION

Julian Vandecaveye 11314 Hwy. M-35, Perkins, MI 49872 Phone: 359-4477

Benny Herioux 2324 17th Road, Bark River, MI 49807 Phone: 786-5671

Patrick Connor, City of Escanaba Appointment 3405 8th Avenue South, Escanaba, MI 49829 Phone:399-2787

John Denholm 2676 II Road, Garden, MI 49835 Phone: 644-7198

Renee Barron 2948 St. Nicholas 31st Rd, Rock, MI 49880 Phone: 359-4602

Randy Scott 7722 Summit 19.55 Dr., Gladstone, MI 49837 Phone: 428-2414

David Moyle, County Board Representative 1501 1st Avenue South, Escanaba, MI 49829 Phone: 235-8427  email: dmoyle(at)chartermi.net

Dan Menacher, Building & Zoning Administrator 310 Ludington Street, Escanaba, MI 49829 Phone: 789-5189

Contact Heritage Wind Energy

Marty Lagina, Founder and Chief Executive: 

info@heritagewindenergy.com

Rick Wilson, VP Operations:

Rick@heritagewindenergy.com

Wind Turbines Affect Enjoyment of Property

Manistique Tribune

August 14, 2014 

Who will choose to live among the turbines?

Escanaba Daily Press

July 2014

EDITOR:

We bought our home in the Garden Peninsula in 2007 but I have been spending my summers in the U.P. my whole life. We chose this area because there are all different types of people here from those who have lived in Garden their whole life and give a solid base to the community to those who found this hidden gem and decided to continue to work, retire or spend their summers here. All of the people in this community add to the overall value of this community.

Several years ago, my husband attended a meeting Heritage held in the Peninsula before the turbines were built and Heritage assured those in attendance they would be a great asset to the community. They wouldn't be noisy and that having them in the area wouldn't cause any problems. These statements could not be any further from the truth.

Drive down Route 183 on any windy or foggy day. Stop your car and roll down your window. You can hear them loud and clear. Read the letters to the editors of all the local papers and see how it has affected so many people on the peninsula. Those near the turbines can no longer sit outside their homes and enjoy the peace and quiet. Some sleep in their basements while others keep ear plugs in their pockets for sleeping or working in their yards.

Yes, a few have benefited financially, but at what cost to the community as a whole.

The installation of these turbines has caused a downward spiral of the property values and quality of life not only for those that live near the turbines but anyone else on the peninsula. There is so much property for sale along Route 183 on the peninsula and no one appears to be buying. What does this mean for the long term health of the community? Think of how this decrease in property values will affect local property tax revenues. Would you buy a house near a turbine knowing you couldn't sleep with your windows open in the summer, camp in your backyard or have coffee on your front porch in the morning without the constant drone of the turbine or feel vibrations against your chest? Would you buy one if it was possible they could be within a mile of your home? Even if you couldn't hear them, would you rather buy a home with a view of pristine forests and lakes, or one with a view of a 400 plus foot wind turbine?

People looking for homes now drive down the peninsula, see the turbines and turn right around and look elsewhere. Ask a local realtor and they will tell you no one will even look at a home near a turbine. Furthermore, ask someone in construction and they will tell you people won't build, or regret building in the last few years because of the turbines.

We feel like we were taken for fools by the way Heritage came into town, assured the residents all would be fine, built the turbines and then have now left us with a divided community and the residents to deal with the aftermath. The other townships in Delta County should be aware they could be Heritage's next target for wind turbines.

Tracy Sommer

Wilmette, IL

Residents Speak Up for Fair and Balanced Zoning

Escanaba Daily Press

July 2014

EDITOR:

I just had to write this letter to tell everyone in Delta and Schoolcraft counties how proud I am to be part of a local citizen effort to try to right a terrible wrong that has been done to the Garden Peninsula and its residents.

I'm talking about the homeowners on the Peninsula who have been forced to live next to an industrial scale wind farm. I'm talking about homeowners who have lost property value. I'm talking about the extravagant promises of tax windfalls from hosting a wind farm. I'm talking about the potential devastation to the migratory bird population that uses the Peninsula. I'm talking about local government meetings turned into yelling matches and bullying sessions.

All these injustices came together recently along with one other amazing ingredient - the wind farm people decided to put wind turbines in the Cooks area of Schoolcraft County.

It's kind of funny, we in Garden have lived with the wind turbines on the Peninsula for over two years now and lots of people complained. Some wanted to do something, but organizing was difficult and slow. It's a small community and few of us wanted to create enemies. Everyone knew fighting against the turbines would cost money and that the wind farm people were rumored to have deep pockets. Worst of all - some residents (not the ones living close to a turbine) were beginning to be resigned to the fact of turbines in their future. Things looked hopeless.

But magic happened. The Cooks people decided to fight the wind turbines. They knew what the Garden Peninsula people were going through. They knew it was not a pleasant experience. So they organized, went to local government meetings and spoke in favor of honest and fair wind turbine setbacks. They contacted experts to get honest information about wind power. And, they did much more. I was amazed to see how active and efficient they were.

The results in Schoolcraft County: the elected officials listened to the citizen's concerns and it looks the residents of Cooks will not repeat the Garden experience. "Hoo-ray."

This magic has spread to Garden. We have organized. So look out wind farm people! Here we come. We are demanding fairer setbacks, local noise regulation, and stronger enforcement of wildlife laws.

Fred Bates

Garden, MI

Where will the next phase be built?

Yellow highlighted areas show leaseholder land.

Video of June 2014 Wind Energy Presentation in Delta County