Are wind turbines ugly? I think they are kind of cool looking, actually, sleek, modern, and of course they are a tangible symbol of alternative energy. I’d like to see a few spinning out in Lake Michigan.
EVANSTON, Ill.—Residents here are used to seeing nothing but water, sky and sailboats as they survey the horizon on Lake Michigan.
Now, many are wondering whether wind turbines would add to or detract from that view, as the city explores the possibility of harvesting the wind that barrels down Lake Michigan at an average speed of 18 miles an hour.
“We’re determined to find a way to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Elizabeth Tisdahl, mayor of Evanston, where the city council last week approved a plan to seek information from developers interested in building a wind farm about seven miles offshore.
The proposed wind farm, which is expected to be privately financed, is projected to cost $400 million, take about seven years to complete and include 40 large wind turbines capable of producing power for 40,000 homes. It is unclear how this would affect utility rates in the college town, which has about 30,000 homes.
[Click to continue reading Wind Farms Catch a Gust on Great Lakes – WSJ.com]
All of those factors come into play with the biggest proposed development in the lakes so far, a $4 billion wind farm off Western Michigan proposed by Scandia Wind Offshore, a Norwegian-American concern. The project would supply enough power for 300,000 homes and have easy access to the Chicago and Detroit markets.
“This is the best spot in the U.S. for industrial wind power, without a doubt,” said Harald Dirdal, development director of Havgul Clean Energy, a Norwegian firm that is majority owner of Scandia Wind.
Scandia’s plans, unveiled late last year, have drawn heavy opposition from the tiny resort and retirement community of Pentwater, Mich., where residents fear the project four miles offshore would hurt property values while providing little benefit locally. Jobs would largely flow elsewhere, and the electricity would be fed into the regional grid.
“We won’t benefit from jobs, and we won’t benefit from reduced electricity [rates]. And we certainly won’t benefit from the windmills being in front of our sunset,” said Juanita Pierman, village president.
Scandia has since split the planned development in two, moving half slightly north of Pentwater and the other half offshore of Muskegon, where Scandia hopes a windmill manufacturer might locate a factory to take advantage of the large-scale development.
Any new project will have some Not In My Back Yard response, such as:
In Evanston, a community group called Citizens for a Greener Evanston spent about two years studying alternative energy sources, said Nate Kipnis, an architect who co-chaired the group’s renewable-energy task force. The group recommended the wind farm to the city council because it best captured the city’s most unique resource and could even become a draw for visitors, he said.
Others are skeptical. City Councilwoman Judy Fiske supported the vote to gather more information, but first read from three pages of questions she wants answered.
A picture provided by the backers meant to show how small the windmills would look from shore worried her. “It does give you a very strong sense that there is some development on the lake,” she said. “Suddenly you’ve lost that quality of serenity that comes from living on a large body of water.”