Planet Gore

Wind in Lake Michigan

Looks like Nantucket isn’t the only place where the sailing isn’t smooth for offshore wind. The WSJ reports on the mixed public reaction to plans for 40 turbines off the lakeshore in Evanston, Ill., and elsewhere.

Plans to build rows of structures that can rise more than 500 feet out of the water have been opposed around New England’s Nantucket Sound and other areas.

Many Evanston residents are intrigued by the idea, Ms. Tisdahl said, while others are worried about doing anything that might threaten Lake Michigan. Still, the notion of using the Great Lakes’ wind to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and create jobs holds appeal

[T]he biggest proposed development in the lakes so far, a $4 billion wind farm off Western Michigan proposed by Scandia Wind Offshore, a Norwegian-American concern. The project would supply enough power for 300,000 homes and have easy access to the Chicago and Detroit markets.

Scandia’s plans, unveiled late last year, have drawn heavy opposition from the tiny resort and retirement community of Pentwater, Mich., where residents fear the project four miles offshore would hurt property values while providing little benefit locally. Jobs would largely flow elsewhere, and the electricity would be fed into the regional grid.

“We won’t benefit from jobs, and we won’t benefit from reduced electricity [rates]. And we certainly won’t benefit from the windmills being in front of our sunset,” said Juanita Pierman, village president.

In Evanston, a community group called Citizens for a Greener Evanston spent about two years studying alternative energy sources, said Nate Kipnis, an architect who co-chaired the group’s renewable-energy task force. The group recommended the wind farm to the city council because it best captured the city’s most unique resource and could even become a draw for visitors, he said.

Others are skeptical. City Councilwoman Judy Fiske supported the vote to gather more information, but first read from three pages of questions she wants answered.

A picture provided by the backers meant to show how small the windmills would look from shore worried her. “It does give you a very strong sense that there is some development on the lake,” she said. “Suddenly you’ve lost that quality of serenity that comes from living on a large body of water.”

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