Who is behind this project?
“The RES Group (Renewable Energy Systems) is a global renewable energy company which has been active in the renewable energy industry for over 30 years. Its core business is to develop, construct and operate large-scale, grid-connected renewable energy projects worldwide for commercial, industrial and utility clients.” The company is based in Great Britain. Source: Wikipedia:
RES has history of developing industrial scale wind projects on commercial forest lands owned by Weyerhaueser, which recently acquired Plum Creek’s timber properties in Upper Michigan. RES may also be partnering with UMERC on this project.
How are Wind Turbine Projects Regulated?
While wind developers are urged to “consult” with regulators and other environmental stakeholders early in the planning process — most federal recommendations are voluntary, not required by law.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has regulatory authority for protecting natural resources under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Federal “take” permits may be required if turbine blades are expected to kill raptors, threatened or endangered species of migratory birds, bats, etc.
The USFWS states: “As the United States moves to expand wind energy production, it also must maintain and protect the Nation’s wildlife and their habitats, which wind energy production can negatively affect. As with all responsible energy development, wind energy projects should adhere to high standards for environmental protection. With proper diligence paid to siting, operations, and management of projects, it is possible to mitigate for adverse effects to wildlife, and their habitats. This is best accomplished when the wind energy project developer communicates as early as possible with the Service and other stakeholders.” While compliance is largely voluntary, the USFWS has developed guidance documents for the wind energy industry:
- USFWS Land-Based Wind Energy Guidance (PDF)
- USFWS Indiana Bat Wind Energy Projects Guidance (PDF)
- USFWS Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance (PDF)
- USFWS Wind Energy Development
- Utilizing NEXRAD Weather Data and a Hotspot Analysis to Determine Bird Migration Concentration Areas (PDF)
In 1984, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delegated authority over federal wetlands permitting programs to the State of Michigan.
- Michigan Threatened /Endangered Species Lists by County
- Michigan’s Clean and Renewable Energy Act
- Michigan DNR: Mallard Migration Routes
- L’Anse Township
- Michigamme Township Zoning Resources
- Champion Township Zoning Ordinance
- Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
Where can Industrial Turbines be Constructed?
In Michigan, “siting” is addressed by local government — but few counties have any siting requirements. Most decisions are made at the township level. Township zoning laws may limit the height of structures, specify legal setbacks in order to protect the property rights of adjacent landowners, or restrict wind energy projects by zoning use codes. Townships may also impose temporary moratoriums on new use, and hold local referendums where local voters make critical land use decisions impacting their own area.
- Michigan Land Use Guidelines for Siting Wind Energy Systems (PDF)
- State Legislative Approaches to Wind Energy Facility Siting (PDF)
- Wind Energy: Great Lakes Regional Guidelines (PDF) * This report recommends NO wind developments that would fragment large intact forest lands, impact bird and bat migration corridors, or degrade inland wetlands; it recommends “AVOID wind energy development within 5 miles (8 km) of Great Lakes shorelines” including areas used by migrating waterfowl; and recommends that developers AVOID areas where large numbers of migrating birds concentrate (not placing wind turbines, or other large structures near “Important Bird Areas” or where large numbers of migrating birds are predicted to occur.