County officials in Bay County, Michigan are trying to implement more renewable energy into the county.
The county officials are working on a plan to revise the ordinance against wind turbines in Monitor township to allow them on land zoned for agriculture and away from densely populated areas. They would also have safety zones beneath them and be required to avoid excessive noise. Citizens of Monitor township are pushing back against revising the ordinance for various reasons. Among their reasons are decreased home values, noise, safety, and impacts on health.
Wind energy has a variety of benefits.
Not only does it benefit local farmers by contributing to their income it is also a sustainable source of electricity. There are 1,051 operational turbines in Michigan. They produce 4.5% of the energy consumed by residents. By 2021 Michigan is required to produce 15% of its electricity from renewable resources. Michigan produced 8% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2017.
The construction of turbines creates jobs.
Maintenance of them also creates and maintains jobs. If Michigan delegates the appropriate funding for renewable energy they could produce 20% of the consumed energy solely from renewable sources. After the construction of the wind turbines is paid for the cost of producing wind energy drops significantly. The wind costs nothing of course so consumers can be charged two to three cents per kilowatt-hour.
Among the varying benefits, there are disadvantages.
The turbines can be noisy and unattractive. They cast shade and decrease available farmland. Occasionally birds and bats fly into them. The biggest disadvantage is that if there is no wind, no energy is created. Turbines are built at high enough elevations to harness the strongest wind possible to create the most energy they can. Turbines can vary in height from 40 meters to 160 meters tall. The taller the turbine the more energy they can produce.
Turbines are ranked by their KwH capability. The higher the turbine the more Kilowatts it can produce per hour. Currently Michigan has the capacity to produce 1,904 MW a year. In 2017 wind turbines provided enough electricity to power 471,700 homes.
Michigan has plans to put in place more wind turbines to produce even more renewable energy. Support from surrounding communities in imperative to reaching these goals, however. Currently reforming the ordinance in Monitor township has been put on the back burner until August 14th when township officials can meet again about it.