Wind Turbines Target Wild U.P.

Have you heard about the industrial-scale wind turbine project by global developer RES, threatening the wild Michigamme Highlands and Huron Mountains of Marquette and Baraga Counties? Learn more about the developer’s plans, zoning information, maps, hazards for migrating birds, bats and treaty-protected natural resources, noise and light pollution, industrialization of undeveloped lands, regulatory information, and more.

Scope of Wind Turbines

RES Wind Energy has proposed to construct 133 wind turbines in the most remote portions of Baraga and Marquette Counties. RES refers to the Baraga County portion of their build-out plan as the “Summit Lake Wind Project”, which stretches from Herman to the McCormick Wilderness.

RES intends to construct wind turbines on the two highest natural points in the State of Michigan: Mount Arvon, and Mount Curwood. Both of these peaks, located in rugged forest lands, are increasingly popular with tourists.

Fewer details have emerged concerning the Marquette County portion of the RES wind project, impacting the Yellow Dog Plains from ridges south of the Huron Mountain Club to remote lands north of the McCormick Wilderness.

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 10.45.48 PM
Source: Google Map of RES Wind Proposal

Size of Wind Turbines

RES intends to erect 499′ tall wind turbines atop some of the highest points in our region.

How tall is 499′? For the sake of comparison:

  • The Bishop Baraga Shrine in L’Anse is only 35′ high
  • Marquette’s historic Landmark Inn is 92′ high
  • NMU’s Superior Dome is 150′ tall

Why does RES specify that their turbine heights would be “499 feet” rather than “500 feet”? The Federal Aviation Administration’s “Obstruction Lighting and Marking” rules were revised in 2016; federal regulations now view all structures taller than 499 feet as “obstructions”:

“The height of a structure identified as an obstruction has been lowered from 500 feet above ground level (AGL) to 499 feet above ground level, by amendment to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 77, Safe, Efficient Use, and Preservation of the Navigable Airspace (75 Federal Register 42303, July 21, 2010). Accordingly, all structures that are above 499 feet AGL are considered obstructions and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will study them to determine their effect on the navigable airspace. This will ensure that all usable airspace at and above 500 feet AGL is addressed during an aeronautical study and that this airspace is protected from obstructions that may create a hazard to air navigation.”


Lighting of Wind Turbines

Since wind turbines present hazards to aviation, wind turbine obstruction lighting additionally specifies that tower hubs be marked by “red flashing, strobe, or pulsed obstruction lights” and these “flashing, strobe, or pulsed obstruction lighting should be synchronized to flash simultaneously.”

Is the RES Project compatible with the wild, undeveloped Michigamme Highlands?

What are the risks and environmental impacts?


18 thoughts on “Wind Turbines Target Wild U.P.

  1. Everyone wants to blame someone else for the dangers to wildlife when actions must be taken in our own backyard. Many birds on migration route the numbers to birds harmed has this data been looked at.


  2. Erecting these eyesores are a waste of land and takes away from the natural beauty of the area. They require constant maintenance and are the peril to large birds such as Eagles is not negligible.


  3. These will ruin the natural beauty and disrupt the environment of the UP and the region. There are places where these are less disruptive and this area is not it. People come here to get away from the human established environment. These will ruin it…especially with all the blinking red lights and enormous size.


  4. There are better wind technologies available than large blade turbines. The logistics alone to transport and build the units will create mayhem in that wilderness environment. There will be no significant net job creation and most importantly there are significant questions as to the net energy gain, if any, of wind turbine installations. Add the inevitable loss of migrating birds, particularly raptors, that cross Lake Superior and the grotesque vision of large blade turbines running across the backbone of Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula and no rationally thinking person could possibly endorse this proposal.


  5. Hydropower is far superior to wind power. I would hate to see our horizons filled with anything industrial. It ruins our nature and the tourist industry that depends on it.


  6. No, No, NO! Leave the U.P. Alone. Refer to Frank Malette’s comments, there is better technology and I can’t imagine the disruption to wildlife. This can not be very well thought out as to how they would get these turbines to these remote sites.


  7. Major road-building will be required to move the large components of these towers to the site. They arrive on oversized rigs that dwarf normal semis and there will be large cranes, and many workers driving back and forth. After they are erected, there will be a constant flow of maintenance. Power lines to the area and a substation must also be created. Bye-bye wilderness.


  8. This isn’t going to happen. Why? Because the ROI won’t be there for the developer. The capacity factor for wind power is typically only in the range of 20-25%, gas turbine generation is a much better ROI right now. If the State is looking for renewable energy it is probably cheaper to import hydro power from Manitoba or Ontario. Most importantly, this location is rated as a marginal wind resource location and requires miles of transmission line to be built to the site. There are much better locations elsewhere in Michigan and beyond that should be more attractive investments.


  9. I wonder if off shore wind farms would be a better alternative to this. Would this be viable?

    I’d appreciate an honest answer and not your opinion on how you feel about wind turbines.



    1. While there are pros and cons to offshore versus land-based wind farms, so far the cons seem to be winning. The key ones:
      (1) There is greater public concern, scrutiny and political opposition to infrastructure that impact public waters and especially the Great Lakes. This makes it more challenging and expensive to obtain permits.
      (2) There are overlapping legal jurisdictions that haven’t been vetted. Lack of legal precedent creates more risk your expenses will be higher than anticipated due to lawsuits, legal expenses, and unfavorable court or regulator decisions after you have sunk a lot of your money into the project.
      (3) Assuming you are successful overcoming the permitting and legal hurdles, and you get the State utility commission approval, you then will still have more costs versus land-based wind farms. It is more expensive to build these, because the acceptable sites often need to be at least 7 miles out, to get beyond the “sight line” so they aren’t seen from shore. Then you have to run transmission lines underwater to these locations and build substations on or near the shoreline. Finally, they are naturally more expensive to maintain.
      (4) Then you have your position in the market place. You are the proud owner of a new generation resource that has a cost per kilowatt disadvantage in the wholesale power market. When you do get a contract to sell your power it drives up the cost of energy for the home/business owner more than the more cost effective options that you should have invested in. So unless people are crying to pay more for renewable energy for some crazy reason it isn’t a winning offering to the end customer.

      Make sense?


      1. Added to my original Reply. Dave, I admire your desire to get past opinions and personal feelings. You seem to want to understand objective facts that impact whether or not something is viable to the key stakeholders involved: end customer, power market, power providers/developers, investors, and the vast landscape of governance stakeholders that exist in our wonderful State and country. I wish more people had a mind like yours!


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