The new House Bill 4499 proposed by republican representatives Ray Franz and Jon Bumstead would ban offshore wind structures of any kind in Michigan. The bill states:
THE DEPARTMENT SHALL NOT ENTER INTO A LEASE OR DEED THAT ALLOWS THE USE OF UNPATENTED LANDS FOR THE SITING, PLACEMENT, CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION, OR MAINTENANCE OF ANY STRUCTURE TO RESEARCH WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT, ANY WIND TURBINE, OR ANY EQUIPMENT OR STRUCTURE RELATED TO A WIND TURBINE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED, TO A TRANSMISSION LINE.
The West Michigan Environmental Action Council position on wind power is that Michigan should aggressively and responsibly encourage wind development. Further, WMEAC supports thoughtfully planned and, well-regulated off-shore wind.
A common argument heard in opposition to offshore wind is that it is not aesthetically pleasing. The aesthetics of Michigan’s lakeshore is important to most Michigan residents. Here are some aesthetic points to consider.
- Offshore windmills would be located at least 3 miles from the shoreline and in many cases over 6 miles. At these distances the windmills would not be the focal point of the horizon. In some cases windmills located even further from shore would be nearly invisible to the eye.
- Wind power is not an all-or-nothing idea. In a trade-off system, windmills will be a better aesthetic alternative than coal-plants which are a visual disturbance to the shoreline and cause more widespread affects through pollution they emit.
- Windmills can become a positive aesthetic symbol of devotion to a clean and healthy state.
Another argument against offshore wind is that it has a negative environmental impact. Thoughtfully planned and well-regulated offshore wind power would include measures to avoid and mitigate negative environmental impact.
The Report of the Michigan Great Lakes Wind Council gives recommendations for the least and most suitable areas for wind development. Last year’s house bill 6564 includes many examples of the kinds of regulations that should be implemented in any offshore wind development scheme. Read some of the main features of this bill: WMEAC summary.
Here are some other environmentally friendly features of HB 6564:
- No wind development will take place within 5 miles from areas of high bird and bat concentrations or habitats of threatened or endangered species.
- No Wind development will take place within 13 miles of National Park shoreline.
- Two robust, detailed rounds of permitting for both citing and construction/maintenance will have to be completed with close government oversight, scientific analysis, contingency preparedness, and public comment periods.
- Plans will be required for the removal of equipment and restoration of bottom-lands to pre development conditions.
It is important for Michigan to continue to be competitive in wind development as many other Great Lakes states and Canada consider offshore wind. According to the Michigan GLOW Council offshore wind can be a valuable asset to the state.
Michigan has vast natural resources—including over 38,000 square miles of state-owned Great Lakes bottomlands and uniquely attractive wind resources over the lakes—to support the development of offshore wind in the state. If properly developed in a prudent and thoughtful manner, offshore wind energy in Michigan’s Great Lakes could be a significant source of clean, renewable energy that improves energy security, reduces expenditures on out-of-state fuels as well as greenhouse gas and other emissions, and provides new opportunities for job creation and retention in the state and region.
If you would like to contact a representative to let them know about your support of well-regulated, thoughtfully planned offshore wind as an alternative to coal and natural gas, contact rep. Ray Franz or rep. Jon Bumstead who introduced the bill.
Rep. Ray Franz website, email: RayFranz@house.mi.gov, or phone: (517) 373-0825
Rep Jon Bumstead website, email: JonBumstead@house.mi.gov, or phone: (517) 373-7317
You can report your call/email on WMEAC’s FB page.