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Proposed wind farm in U.P. would be built on timberlands


Renewable Energy Systems hopes to build a 130 megawatt wind farm on privately owned timberlands in the Upper Peninsual of Michigan.  The Summit Lake Wind Project would be able to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 45,000 homes.

The timberlands are owned by Weyerhaeuser, so the lease payments would go to one company alone.  That's different from most wind farms, which pay many landowners for the right to place wind turbines on their land.

But RES project manager Sean Stockton says there are many other benefits for local residents in L'Anse Township, like the $25.5 million dollars in new tax payments over 25 years, "which will help with improvements to schools and roads, seniors and veterans services and beyond the taxes, there's also a ripple effect with indirect jobs."

Stockton says many of the turbines will not be visible to residents, because they'll be tucked behind stands of trees which will obscure their view.

The project is opposed by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, which has hunting and fishing rights on the land, and by Friends of the Huron Mountains, which is collecting signatures on a petition to overturn a zoning ordinance that would allow the project to go forward.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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