WIND FARM IN LAKE MICHIGAN OFF PENTWATER

 

In December, 2009, a company named Scandia proposed building a 100 square mile wind farm in Lake Michigan off Pentwater. That particular proposal was shelved after opposition by residents of Mason and Oceana counties.  However the concept is not dead.  An update by Jeff Hoenle,  NCBA vice-president and a former official in POWER, follows.  Please telephone or email Jeff if you would like more information or to comment.

 

 

Thanks to everyone’s efforts last year in challenging the proposed offshore wind power plant, Michigan legislative members have taken note.  Representative Franz, who replaced Representative Scripps out of the Ludington area, has developed a modification to the current law that regulates development on the Great Lakes.  His proposed changes to the existing law would make it illegal to install a variety of power plants and transmission lines including offshore wind power generators in our beloved waters.   

 

The Lake Michigan POWER Coalition (LMPC)  has been staying close to information regarding this proposed bill and continues to be involved in Lansing.  Although the Scandia threat continues off the Grand Haven coast, local support in Pentwater has diminished as many feel that last summer’s victory  solved the problem.  As financial contributions to the LMPC are a mere fraction of the level appreciated at this time last year, the LMPC needs to evaluate how effective it can be in supporting the new bill that, if passed, could offer a more permanent level of protection. 

 

The LMPC is reaching out to its prior supporters requesting pledging interest in order to establish a budget to build an awareness plan.  The awareness plan could include both an advertising campaign to get the word out to Michigan residents to contact their elected officials to let them know how they feel about protecting Michigan waters and shoreline communities; as well as an investment in Government relation firms in Lansing to communicate with Representatives.

 

Last year the NCBA contributed to this cause as an organization.  Judging by the accomplishments of the LMPC, the money was well spent.  Many of the members of the NCBA also contributed individually to the LMPC.  These funds were also greatly appreciated.  Now, as we look to the immediate future, both as individuals and as an organization, we need to consider our level of participation with the Coalition’s efforts.

 

I still believe that the LMPC is best situated in organizing communication with our Michigan elected officials.  Furthermore, the LMPC is positioned to reactivate its advertising program to build awareness around west Michigan. 

 

I recognize that many families expressed feelings that they weren’t completely opposed to development of green energy.  Given our current fuel costs it is easy to salivate over “free” power.  Some of these families may have a hard time contributing to an effort that would completely block offshore wind energy.  As I read the proposed changes, I feel that this should be interpreted as a stop gap effort.  Somewhere in the future, when technology advances and offshore wind powered generators improve, it may be possible to again modify this bill to permit smart technology.  I am hopeful that smart technology will be defined as technology that doesn’t interfere with local communities that build their economies from the shoreline activities.  Until then, if protection isn’t put in place, a competitor to Scandia may be able to revisit our area and plan to pollute our waters with their unproven ideas.

 

Although I have separated from the LMPC, I continue to communicate with many of the leaders of the group.  They have been kind enough to include me on key issues over the past few months.  I would like to be able to communicate our interest in their future efforts.   If you feel that you would like to pledge to the LMPC for the specific purpose of supporting their efforts with regard to Representative Franz’s bill, please contact me by phone at 586-258-3830 or by email at jhoenle@aol.com so we can chat about your thoughts and questions as well as whether any financial participation is warranted.  Furthermore, your NCBA Board of Directors would encourage you to contact any board member to share your thoughts on the NCBA’s future participation with the LMPC and more generally concerning the windmill issue.

 

Thank you for your interest.

Jeff Hoenle