State tells municipalities: “you figure out wind regulatory issues”

15 Jun 2011

We’ve blogged before about wind energy and some of the challenges that seem to be mounting to large scale wind development here and elsewhere.  The concerns definitely take on a NIMBY tone.

Michigan issued guidance for Sample Zoning for Wind Energy Systems in April 2008.  After Michigan adopted legislation mandating an evaluation, the MPSC conducted an evaluation and issued a report in 2010. That report recommended that decisions regarding setback distances and noise levels remain with the local planning and zoning authorities. However, the MPSC observed a clear need for the dissemination of current scientific information on this issue to decision-makers and charged the  Wind and Health Technical Work Group (TWG) to disseminate such information.  The TWG was convened to advise the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth (DELEG now the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, LARA) and the Michigan Public Service Commission on health issues related to wind turbines. Reportedly, the TWG was developing proposed revisions to the 2008 zoning guidelines focusing primarily on three issues:

  • Physical Safety
  • Limitations on Shadow Flicker
  • Conflict Resolution

Now comes word via a terse email that the TWG “has ended its activities.  There will be no report or recommendations from the Work Group.  The state energy office and the MPSC have reviewed their involvement and since there is no legislative authorization for this activity have withdrawn their participation in the Work Group.”

This seems to leave the addressing of the widely reported (and less well documented) concerns regarding flicker, noise and other issues to the local units of government – at a time where they can ill afford to develop this information on their own.  Perhaps municipal government organizations like the MML or the MTA will pick up this baton – but I doubt it.

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