Garden Peninsula Wind Turbines, Part 3

The U.P.’s first wind farm will be built in Delta County in the near future, and the project has divided the community.

ABC 10 News Now senior reporter Mike Hoey is examining the project in a 3–part series of reports.

In Part 3, he looks at one of the wedge issues that opponents of the wind farm have singled out.

Heritage Sustainable Energy of Traverse City will put up wind turbines on the Garden Peninsula soon.

Some of the equipment is already in place.

Garden Township Supervisor Morgan Tatrow says he believes most area residents support the wind farm, and besides helping township revenues, he says it’ll give the farmers leasing the company some of their property a helping hand.

But along with that has come some concern about property value.

Paul Comstock says he bought a second home on the Garden Peninsula because of the natural environment.

He’s concerned both that, and his investment, may be compromised.

Comstock says he came to the peninsula from Texas because he considers the landscape a jewel, and he says he hopes local and county officials keep that in mind rather than allowing that beauty to be sold off for the first dollar that comes along.

A Wisconsin actuarial firm did a wind turbine impact study in 2009 of two Wisconsin counties that already had wind farms.

Most real estate agents in the study believe property values decline when a wind turbine is located within half a mile.

That decline ranged anywhere from 20% to 75%, based on proximity to the nearest turbine.

Tatrow says he’s heard of that study, but he’s also heard of another study of areas in Pennsylvania and New York state where property values did not go down or, in some cases, went up.

There was such a study in 2003, and that is indeed what it found.

A Washington, D.C.-based group called the Renewable Energy Policy Project performed that study.

However, that one covered all real estate within 5 miles of a turbine instead of focusing only on those who have to live with a turbine in their midst all the time.

Also, U.S. Treasury Department subsidies from 2009 stimulus bill will be used to cover at least some of the Garden Peninsula project cost.

To use those incentives, Heritage has to begin construction by the end of this month.

Comstock says it’s interesting that on the one hand, one federal agency is saying the wind farm shouldn’t be built because of potential issues with bald eagles and other migratory birds, while on the other hand, a different federal agency is offering money to build this project and others.

Tatrow says he’s heard about that within the last couple of weeks.

He says he believes Heritage is altering what it’s doing as a result of the conflict, but he says we’d have to talk with Rick Wilson of Heritage Sustainable Energy for more about that.

So, what about that apparent conflict?

What exactly is the project’s total cost?

How much of that cost will be covered by government incentives?

We would have asked those questions, and others, of Wilson.

However, he declined our request for an interview.

Delta County zoning officials also never replied when we asked them.