Draft wind energy report issued

A 114-page draft report containing responses to more than 400 wind energy questions posed by interests in Manistee and Benzie counties has been completed by a team from Macalester College for the Understanding Wind Energy Initiative.

The report is available online at www.allianceforeconomicsuccess.com and at www.macalester.edu/understandingwind. A limited number of copies on CD are available by contacting Jami Schneider at (231) 723-4325 or jami@allianceforeconomicsuccess.com.

The Understanding Wind Energy Initiative was formed in February 2011 by six townships to develop fact-based information about wind energy to assist their townships in developing plans and ordinances.

The leadership team for the initiative has representation from Onekama, Arcadia, Pleasanton, and Bear Lake townships in Manistee County and Blaine and Joyfield townships in Benzie County.

Macalester College was selected by the leadership team to complete this and two other project phases based on a recommendation from the Michigan Association of Planning. The other two phases included a wind energy preferences symposium and a wind energy community survey. Reports about those phases are also available online at the above websites.

Members of the team from Macalester will be presenting the three phases of the Understanding Wind Energy Initiative at two forums, one set for Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. in the cafetorium at Frankfort-Elberta School in Franfort and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in the gymnasium at Bear Lake school in Bear Lake.

The forums will be moderated by the Alliance for Economic Success, which helped coordinate the project at the request of the leadership team. Individuals who participate in the forum are encouraged to download and print the report prior to the meeting. A limited number of printed copies of the report will be available at the forums along with copies of the report on CD.

Questions or comments on the draft report may be directed to Schneider. Questions and comments directed at specific provisions of the report will be accepted until Friday, Oct. 28. These questions and comments will be reviewed by the Macalester team as they prepare the final report. The final document will be completed and distributed during November.

“There is extensive literature on wind energy science, economics and impacts,” said Dr. Roopali Phadke who led the team from Macalester College. “We used a combination of published sources and unpublished reports and presentations and, in a few cases, external consultation to develop the responses.

“In all cases, we made every effort to ensure that the responses reflected the most recent and reliable scientific knowledge on the topic. We must all realize that it is impossible to answer each of the questions comprehensively. Wind energy science and technology are also rapidly evolving.

“We aimed to provide brief responses and link to additional resources for readers interested in learning more. It is now up to the townships to synthesize this information, along with the reports covering the two other phases of the Understanding Wind Energy Initiative, and apply it to their planning and zoning efforts.”

The questions were generated at public forums and through online and other forms of submissions during spring. The Alliance for Economic Success hosted four open forums in Benzie and Manistee counties to obtain questions and people were also invited to submit questions by email, fax, mail or phone.

All questions were taken straight from the source, word for word. The questions were recorded and organized and made available for public review to ensure that the questions were correctly recorded. The Macalester team received the questions in June 2011.

Some questions involving specific projects and about local governance, energy production or energy economies were tagged as “beyond the scope of the project” given the time and resources available for the project.

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