Renewable energy took a step back in Michigan last week, when voters in Meade Township rejected the expansion of a local wind energy park.
Residents turned out in record numbers for a referendum that was voted down by a 222 to 147 margin. Had voters approved the project, it would have allowed for the construction of 48 new wind turbines in Meade Township, and moved Michigan closer to achieving its goal of generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources.
Part of a Secure Energy Future
What does this mean for the future of Michigan energy? At a time when our state is facing a capacity shortfall as well as new federal mandates on reducing emissions, the rejection of large-scale wind energy projects like the Meade project presents a conundrum for our state. Ultimately, this decision impacts all Michiganders, not just those in Meade Township.
As we reported in our May 6 post on this topic, Huron County also recently passed a six-month wind energy project moratorium. Meade Township, although within Huron County, is self-zoned, so it was not subject to the county moratorium. While it is important to prioritize clean energy and local economic development that clean energy brings, this example in Huron County highlights the need to maintain flexibility as Michigan moves toward a cleaner energy future.
Wind Is Still in the Works
The good news is that local elected leaders continue to see value in wind energy and have approved other projects. Huron County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a wind turbine project in the western part of county, although the project plan had to be amended to included additional restrictions that set a three-mile limit on how close turbines can get to the lakeshore.
What remains to be seen is whether the moratorium will limit any further wind development in Huron County, or county citizens and energy producers will be able to reach consensus on an approach that allows wind energy to continue to grow as a substantial part of Michigan’s future energy portfolio.
AMP supports wind power development as part of an “all of the above” energy strategy for Michigan. Wind energy must play a significant role if we want a more sustainable mix of energy resources that helps us surmount the looming state electric capacity crisis while also allowing Michigan to control our own energy future.
How do you feel about wind energy development in your county, city, or township? Let us know what you think!