Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm a sucker for a wind farm...just not that wind farm

I go ga-ga for wind farms.

I love them.

As my friend Leslie and I moved me across the country to L.A., we ran across a wind farm in middle-of-nowhere Texas. We stopped. Leslie took pictures of the wind farm for me and the cotton for her.

Memorial Day weekend 2009: I was driving to San Francisco with my friend Lena. We passed through the largest, most heavenly looking wind farm I had ever laid my eyes on. I immediately grabbed my cell phone and called Leslie. I had to share my excitement.

Driving home to Michigan 10 days ago, I took a new route up I-65 north toward Chicago rather than I-69 north toward Lansing - and I discovered a wind farm. I even stopped to fill my car up with fuel, snapped a picture and tweeted about it...multiple times. It was nice to find something worth looking at during the unending road that is Indiana.

Then I heard about a proposed wind farm for Michigan. Lake Michigan. And while my initial thought was, "You mean, I could sit on the beach at my parents' cabin and look out at a wind farm, for hours and hours? *Sigh* Yes, please," I then saw all these yard signs shouting "No Mistake in the Lake!" And I thought, "Who are these people that don't want to sit and stare at the beauty of a wind farm for hours and hours? They're crazy!"

So I started asking questions of my family about the proposed farm and they were anti-wind farm in Lake Michigan as well. They have no problem if a farmer wants to allow them in his fields but they don't think it's right to set up a wind farm in location that doesn't belong to any one person. They said a few other complaints from residents include:

1) Noise from the turbines
2) Damage to wind farm from ice in the winter: how can it be predicted, what could the damage do and how much does it cost to fix?
3) Too close to shore, affecting natural resources and tourism at nearby state parks, lighthouses and coastal towns

While the article is unavailable, the comments of readers for and against the proposed wind farm can still be seen here in the Ludington Daily News. Ludington is the city on Lake Michigan closest to where the wind farm would go up. Pentwater and the Silver Lake Sand Dunes where my family spends much of our time is a short distance south.

I found two groups: Offshore Wind and Industrial Wind Action Group (IWA). Offshore Wind supports the development of wind power to a point. Here is an article on desired wind farm to serve Evanston, IL, north of downtown Chicago. IWA is not a fan of wind power and it is the group responsible for the "No Mistake in the Lake" signs. I found this opinion through its website: Don't let wind developers create a mistake in Lake Michigan.

On the limited reading and research I've done thus far, I'm still a fan of wind farms but I say, "No mistake in the lake." There seem to be too many unanswered questions, too much desire to push the proposal through the system, and honestly, I'm not sold on the idea that a wind farm belongs in the public waters that are one of Michigan's greatest natural resources. I can only imagine all the boats out on Lake Michigan forced to navigate through a farm; it's gotta be easier to navigate a tractor around one.

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