Michigan's Thumb eyed for more wind turbines

Plans to bring more wind turbines to MidMichigan are moving forward.

The Thumb-area has been identified as one of the best locations for wind energy generation.

There are already two wind farms in the Thumb-area with a possible third on the way.

Several large wind turbines already spin at two wind farms in Huron County, but Consumers Energy is looking to create two more farms, one in Mason County near Lake Michigan, and one in Tuscola County.

Mary Gust, spokeswoman for Consumers Energy, says "We actually plan to double our renewable energy capacity from 4% to 10% by 2015."

Most of the 900 megawatts of additional power will be in the form of wind generation.

Local leaders are welcoming the opportunity.

Amanda Roggenbuck, Tuscola County Commissioner, says "We're exploring it as an extension to agriculture and an opportunity for economic development."

However, there are many issues that need to be addressed before that happens.

Questions like "Does the community want the towers? Where will they go? Will they be noisy?"

Four meteorological towers have already been erected to measure the wind's speed, direction, and temperature to determine the best locations for the towers.

Several of the meteorological towers are set up across Tuscola County. They'll collect information for about a year and a half.

Consumers Energy has already held a wind forum to address concerns. Tuscola County will be hosting another forum in the first quarter of next year to make sure everyone's concerns are heard.

Roggenbuck says, "Having a 500 foot wind tower is a change. It's a change in your landscape. It's a change in your way of life."

It's change, that Consumers Energy says, is positive.

Gust says, "Not only does it help to limit carbon dioxide emissions, but also creates jobs, adds tax revenue, and generates revenue for land owners. It's a win-win situation."

Roggenbuck says, "Because they're so efficient, there aren't an abundance of jobs created once the towers are up. We want the county to capture the jobs that are there because they're long-term, good-paying jobs."

Partnerships are being formed right now so that students being trained at Delta College can work to maintain the wind turbines.

Tens of thousands of acres have already been secured.

The earliest the wind turbines could go up is after the year 2013.