How is the energy captured?
Modern wind turbines are like the traditional farm windmills used for pumping water. Rotating turbines turn kinetic energy from the wind into electrical energy. Wind turbines are often grouped together into a single wind power plant, also known as a wind farm, and generate bulk electrical power. Electricity from these turbines is fed into a utility grid and distributed to customers just as it is with conventional power plants.
How many homes can be powered from this wind project?
The permit for 40 turbines that Fowler Farms Wind has requested is approximately 64 MW which is enough energy to power about 18,000 households.
How big will the turbines be?
Each turbine will have a tower height of 80 meters and rotor diameter of 100 meters. In total the turbines will be a height of 426 feet, complying with the 450 feet maximum required in the Clinton County Ordinance and smaller than the turbines in Gratiot County.
What are the setback requirements for the turbines?
In compliance with the Clinton County Ordinance, and unless an applicable waiver of setbacks is granted, the minimum turbine setbacks will be as follows:
- Primary structures: 4 times the total height (1,706 feet)
- Non-participating property lines: 1.5 times the total height (640 feet)
- Public roads (from right-of-way): 1.5 times the total height (640 feet)
- Transmission lines: 1.5 times the total height (640 feet)
- Between utility scale structures: 3 times the rotor diameter (984 feet)
Isn’t wind energy more expensive than other sources of electricity?
The Michigan Public Service Commission’s 2012 report on renewable energy determined that the cost of power from a new coal plant would be about $133/megawatt. From 2009-2011, the average cost of wind power contracts approved by the MPSC has been $94.27. The highest figures used in that equation came earlier in the period. Lately the utilities have been purchasing wind power contracts for well under $100/megawatt, showing that wind power compares very favorably to the cost of a new coal plant.
How are property values affected by the wind farm?
The most complete and unbiased report we know of was issued in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It found that proximity to wind energy facilities does not have a pervasive or widespread adverse effect on the property values of nearby homes.
The report, funded by the DOE, was based on site visits, data collection, and analysis of almost 7,500 single-family home sales, making it the most comprehensive and data-rich analysis to date on the potential impact of U.S. wind projects on residential property values.
Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes. There is no evidence of widespread impacts.
That’s in contrast to studies that have investigated residential sales prices near conventional power plants, high voltage transmission lines, and roads, which have found some property value impacts. See the full study, here.
Is there low frequency sound?
Wind turbines do not produce unique or damaging noise. Wind turbines do not produce any more low frequency noise than what already exists in the natural background. The only studies about low frequency noise and wind projects have not been peer reviewed. The project conforms with all ordinance requirements regarding noise and no homes will experience noise levels higher than 45 dBA.
Does the noise study that has been done comply with ANSI standards?
Yes. The Clinton County Ordinance requires the audible sound study to “meet ANSI standards and methodology for the measurement of sound to the extent that those standards provide accurate and substantive information for review by the County.” The Fowler Farms noise study meets and in some cases exceeds applicable ANSI standards. ANSI standards were not written with turbines in mind and certain departures are necessary to properly evaluate the unique nature of a sound source that is totally dependent on the wind. In some cases, the Fowler Farm study goes beyond ANSI standards to make the methodology more appropriate to evaluating wind project noise, improve data collection, and ensure the analysis is more accurate and conservative than a literal interpretation of ANSI standards.
What is the life expectancy of the turbines?
The GE wind turbines have a minimum design life of 20 years. Based upon the turbulence intensities and wind speeds that have been measured at the Project site, it is likely that the original turbine will operate well into their third decade before a retrofit or replacement program would be needed.
What is the decommissioning process of the turbines?
Site decommissioning and restoration will involve removal of towers, turbine generators, transformers, foundations, buildings, and ancillary equipment up to a depth of five feet below grade. All access roads will be removed. Additionally, any disturbed surface shall be graded, reseeded, and restored as nearly as possible to its preconstruction condition. This is all in compliance with the Clinton County Ordinance.
How do we know that there will be money to decommission?
The ordinance requires that the project must post a bond for 125% of the decommissioning costs. The County may bring in a 3rd party to verify the appropriate amount of funds required to decommission a project of this size.
How do I determine if my house will receive shadow flicker?
No house will receive more than 30 hours of shadow flicker a year, which is the Clinton County ordinance requirement. The complete shadow flicker report is available at the Clinton County Planning Commission Office and is available to the public.
Are there any health or medical issues associated with wind turbines?
A 2012 report by the state of Massachusetts found no serious health issues. See the entire study, here.
A December 2009 study prepared for the American Wind Energy Association and the Canadian Wind Energy Association found that:
• There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.
• The ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected by, or to affect, humans.
• The sounds emitted by wind turbines are not unique. There is no reason to believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds and the panel’s experience with sound exposures in occupational settings, that the sounds from wind turbines could plausibly have direct adverse health consequences.
We are aware of no credible safety issues that have arisen in Michigan as wind turbines have been deployed around the state.
What are the tax benefits to the community?
For tax benefits to the community please so our Community Benefits page to see tax revenues for schools, townships and the county.
Are there any job opportunities with this project?
Many project development and construction jobs may be filled by specialized workers who will move into the community during the construction phase. However, a good amount of the earth moving, surveying, engineering and operations could be provided by local businesses, employing Mid-Michigan residents. Additionally, the construction phase of the project will bring an increase in demand for associated services and goods such as restaurants, lodging, and supermarkets. A U.S. Department of energy model estimates that for a project of this size, there will be approximately 58 jobs during construction and 5 ongoing maintenance jobs.
GE, the project turbine manufacturer actively supports Michigan based Renewables Energy Training programs sitting on the education supervisory board of Michigan Institute of Aviation and Technology in Canton, MI. All local jobs will be posted and can only be filled using GE’s online job posting system at www.gecareers.com.