Mason County board rejects Scandia proposal for offshore wind farm
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
LUDINGTON — The Mason County Board of Commissioners has overwhelmingly rejected the idea of putting up to 100 wind turbines off its shores in Lake Michigan.
The county board Tuesday voted 9-1 against a resolution from Scandia Wind Offshore asking the community to accept the view of the turbines 4 miles off the coast at the Mason-Oceana county line near Pentwater.
Scandia had asked the county board to come to such a determination by Sept. 1. If the visual issue was not a “deal breaker” for county boards along the West Michigan coast, the company would move forward with a three-year, multimillion-dollar economic and environmental study of its $4 billion wind farm plan.
The county boards in Oceana, Muskegon and Ottawa counties are being asked to weigh in on the same issue, but have not yet done so. Besides the wind farm 4 miles off the Mason-Oceana coast, Scandia proposes a similar wind farm 6 miles off the Ottawa-Muskegon county line near Grand Haven, plus a 50-turbine land-based installation at the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System.
“They didn’t do all of their homework and did not have all of the answers for putting these on the lake,” said Mason County Chairman Michael Schneider of Ludington. “They needed to do the research first before they came to us.”
Overwhelming public opposition to locating the wind farm so close to shore was reflected in the vote of the Mason County board. A Pentwater-based group, the Lake Michigan POWER Coalition, formed shortly after the Scandia plans were announced in December. The opposition group has been well organized and financed.
Officials from Scandia — a Norway wind development company that has a Minnesota-based office — have told the lakeshore communities that if the county boards rejected their offshore wind proposal the company would “go away.” Scandia CEO Steve Warner was not immediately available to react to the Mason County vote.
A statement from the POWER Coalition said that the Mason County vote “sends a clear message” that the communities do not support “industrial” wind turbine farms off the near shore of Lake Michigan. The group called the overwhelming vote from the Mason County board a “decisive moment” in its opposition to Scandia’s Aegir Project for West Michigan.
“Mason County has now spoken, joining Pentwater Village and Pentwater Township in rejecting the Aegir Project,” said POWER President Jeff Hoenle. “It is now time for (Scandia) to honor its word to abandon any plans to install wind turbines off of Mason County.”
How the Mason vote will affect the other counties or how it will affect the Scandia plans will play out in the coming weeks and months. Scandia has its first public meeting in Ottawa County June 16 at 7 p.m. at Grand Haven High School.
Reaction to the Scandia plans has been most supportive in Muskegon County, and the strongest opposition has come from residents of Oceana County. Oceana and Muskegon have had public meetings but have no votes on the Scandia proposal scheduled.
In Mason County, there was one commissioner who did not vote against the Scandia project. That was Commissioner Bob Genson of Scottville, who Schneider said objected to the wording of the resolution that he thought might be read as opposed to all offshore wind proposals. But Schneider said it was time to end the debate.
“I thought we had all of the information that we needed and didn’t have to wait until Sept. 1 for a vote,” the Mason County board chairman said. “Between now and Sept. 1, nothing was going to change.”
E-mail Dave Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org