- A boom in wind energy is sparking controversy in Huron County, at the tip of Michigan's thumb. The county has 11 wind projects with 300 turbines and could reach 1,000 turbines if residents and developers can agree on the right siting limits and regulations and ensure wind energy doesn't harm Michigan's migrating birds.
- County officials are considering a moratorium on wind growth to review the adequacy of protections to residents and wildlife in present zoning laws, a change that could impede the progress in building renewables of utilities like DTE Energy, Wolverine Power, and NextEra Energy in building renewables capacity.
- Local township residents are pushing for setbacks greater than 1,320 feet to protect them from having to live with turbines’ flicker and noise. Environmentalists are pushing for a law requiring turbines to be even more than three miles from coast lines to protect avian migrations.
At the end of 2014, Michigan ranked 14th in the U.S. with 14 installations representing 1,525 MW of installed wind capacity. It was also the 4th biggest builder of new wind in 2014 with 368 MW.
Through 2011, 86% of Michigan’s 10% renewables by 2015 mandate had been contracted for through wind development and at present DTE is within one already-planned wind project of achieving the 10% requirement.
Conflicts between renewables developers and residents of project-adjacent communities are common. Renewables opponents must answer questions about climate change’s far more severe environmental impacts and recognize renewables’ significant local economic benefits.
At the end of 2013, wind provided Michigan with between 2,001 and 3,000 direct and indirect jobs, $2.3 billion in total capital investment, and $4,048,635 in annual land lease payments. There are 33 wind industry-associated manufacturing facilities in the state.