By Mary Drier
TUSCOLA COUNTY — The Akron Township Planning Commission and also the Fairgrove Planning Commission each held a hearing this week on NextEra Energy Resources’ proposed “Tuscola Wind II” development in those two townships.
On Tuesday, Fairgrove’s commission approved the company’s “special-use permit request” with some provisions. Because of a conflict of interest, commission members Duane Hickey, Mike Day, and Brian Pike each abstained from voting.
On Wednesday, Akron’s Commission approved the company’s same request also with some provisions. Because of conflict of interest, commission member Ron Bernia abstained from voting.
Some of the provisions in each townships’ conditional approval were basically on assurances of compliance and/or details of decommissioning, sound pressure levels, flicker, substation development, and site cleanup after.
See TUSCOLA WIND A8
The next step in the process is site plan hearings.
Fairgrove will have site plan hearings at the township hall in the library 7 p.m., Thursday, April 25, for turbine development in sections north of Darbee Road. And, a hearing at the township hall at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 1 for turbine development of Sections south of Darbee Road.
Akron will have a site plan hearing at the township hall 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 24.
NextEra’s proposed $2 million, 100.3 megawatt wind project calls for using 1.7 megawatt turbines that are 280 feet tall to the hub with a total height of 426 feet with blades.
If the project moves forward, it would provide enough electricity to power about 45,000.
Fairgrove’s wind ordinance calls for a setback of 511 feet from roads and at least that from non-participating landowners, and at least 1,320 feet from a residence.
In Fairgrove Township, NextEra proposes building 38 turbine sites, access roads, electrical collection system, transmission line connection, and a substation. The overall project is proposed to be in portions of Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35 in the township.
Akron’s wind ordinance calls for a setback of at least 469 feet from roads and non-participating landowners, and at least 1,000 feet from a residence.
In Akron Township, NextEra proposes building 10 turbine sites, access roads, and an electrical collection system in Sections 31, 32, and 33 of the township.
Also, building 11 more turbines in Gilford Township is proposed as part of that additional wind farm.
The first wind farm in Tuscola County, “Tuscola – Bay Wind Energy Farm,” was developed by NextEra Energy with 68 turbines in Gilford Township and seven in Saginaw County, which became operational in December 2012.
In addition, there are other wind development projects in the Thumb. Rick Wilson, with Heritage Sustainable Energy Company, said his company has about 3,500 acres leased in Fairgrove Township.
NextEra’s Director Kevin Gildea said negotiations with Heritage are being done.
In addition, Consumers Energy is in the process of developing a wind farm in Columbia Township and in part of Akron Township.
According to Consumers Energy Communication Director Dennis Marvin, the company expects to make an announcement on their project in the next few years.
And, NextEra just acquired the Pheasant Run wind project from RES Americas, which is in Huron County. The original company’s plan as to develop 88 turbines in that wind farm.
The mitten portion of the state has great potential for wind generation development. The Michigan Energy Resource Zone Board did a wind survey a few years ago shows there is enough wind current in the Greater Thumb Area to sustain 1,500 – 2,800 turbines in the counties of Huron, Bay, Saginaw, Sanilac and Tuscola.
Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.