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Monday, February 14, 2011

Muskegon commissioners support Lake Michigan research for offshore wind turbine development

From an article by Dave Alexander in the Muskegon (MI) Chronicle:

MUSKEGON – When the head of the Grand Valley State University alternative energy center asked for the city of Muskegon's help in establishing an offshore wind research buoy in Lake Michigan, there was no controversy.

Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center Director Arn Boezaart asked the Muskegon City Commission for the city to be a co-applicant on state and federal environmental permit applications.

Commissioners quickly voted the city's support and heaped praise on Boezaart for the activities of the energy center in downtown Muskegon.

Anyone who sat through last year's hearings on offshore Lake Michigan wind farms proposed by Scandia would be hard-pressed to see the Ludington City Council or the Pentwater Village Council taking such quick action.

The offshore wind turbine issue simply is not as controversial in Muskegon County as it has been in Oceana and Mason counties. County boards in both Oceana and Mason voted against the Scandia proposal, while Muskegon officials remained relatively supportive.

So when Boezaart approached the city of Muskegon this week for a hand on a $3.7 million offshore wind research buoy project, no one asked if the wind testing effort would eventually lead to huge wind turbines being placed on Lake Michigan off the coast of Muskegon.

There was no debate about turbine blades killing birds or about low-frequency turbine noise — topics that would have likely been part of the conversation with Muskegon's northern neighbors.

“Muskegon has had a willingness to look at offshore wind,” Boezaart told The Chronicle after receiving the city's support on the research buoy project. “It goes right back to what we saw with the Scandia issue. In Muskegon, offshore wind is viewed as a potential source of jobs and represents new business for the region.”

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