MACKINAW CITY (WJRT) - (12/18/05)-- If everything goes as the developers plan, 40 wind turbines will be built in Huron County. Mackinaw City already has two wind-powered generators.
It's hard to miss the two towers looming above the landscape, just south of the Mackinac Bridge. They stand 230 feet tall and each has three, 85-foot-long blades. The wind turbines have been making electricity for four years now.
"If we do this well, we can create a whole new industry for Michigan," said Rich VanderVeen, of Mackinaw Power.
One of the turbines at the Straits is temporarily out of service, having been struck by lightning. However, when they both are working, they can turn out enough power for 300 homes. "We know Michigan is the 15th windiest state and certainly could produce enough power for one-third of the power in Michigan with just wind power," VanderVeen said.
Mackinaw City leaders were willing to listen to developers when approached five years ago about the project. "We don't mind standing out from the crowd and being a progressive community in Michigan," said Steve Schnell, with Mackinaw City Community Development.
Last week, members of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance toured the Mackinaw City wind farm. Andy Hayes is one who was impressed with the environmentally friendly method of making electricity. "Wind power, wind generation, alternative energy sources are on everybody's minds, especially with the rising fuel costs and energy crisis."
But the project is not without its detractors. Fourteen people have signed a petition, asking Mackinaw City to stop the construction of three more wind turbines. They say when the sun shines, shadows from the spinning blades create an irritating strobe effect and the sound is very annoying. "You can hear them outside, which, okay, is bad enough. But when you can hear them inside, that's when you have to take a really strong look at what is this all about," complained Kelly Alexander, who lives near the turbines.
Wind turbine proponents say in three years, there could be 2,000 wind turbines across the Great Lakes region. On December 22nd, a trial will be held in Huron County to consider if a zoning change that allows the construction of wind turbines should be put to a public vote.
ABC12.com: Developers have big plans for wind turbines
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