Public forum on wind development held in L'Anse

Published: Apr. 18, 2018 at 9:46 PM EDT
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Construction on wind turbines in Baraga County hasn't even started, but the issue is already dividing the community. In December of 2017, Renewable Energy Systems proposed 35 to 50 wind turbines to be put throughout the Weyerhaeuser Land in L'Anse Township. This has led many who live around the land to speak out against them.

“This is a tourist area, it's the jewel of the Upper Peninsula as far as we're concerned,” said Nancy Haun, leader of the “Friends of the Huron Mountains. “Once the wind turbines are up, they'll be blowing up our mountains tops, and that will be the end. We won't have them anymore.”

The Baraga County board hosted a public forum in L'Anse tonight, with a presentation from the Michigan State University senior extension educator Brad Neumann, to help answer the community's questions on wind development. Neumann talked about the different ways communities have reacted to wind turbines being built. He also addressed major concerns like noise.

“Noise can be annoying for some in a certain distance of utility scale wind turbines,” said Neumann. “The research does say though that there are no direct health impacts.”

RES says that building wind turbines would add jobs, and lower the cost of energy in the area.

“It's one of the most cost effective sources of new power plants out there,” said Mason Sorenson, the senior development manager for RES. “Plus you have a reduced use of fossil fuels, and it's better for the environment, a number of benefits that way.”

According to RES' plan, the wind turbines will be spread across up to 120 acres east of the village. Those plans remain in the early stages and are subject to change due to studies or suggestions.

“Anyone who wants to meet with me, I've sat down and listened to those criticisms, listened to those concerns,” said Sorenson. “We're open to all of that dialogue, so we can make sure we come up with the best plan for the community as possible.”

Changes to the L'Anse Township noise ordinance that would ban turbines are currently being reviewed by the planning board. If denied, RES would submit an application for construction. For now, discussions will continue, with all parties heavily involved.