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3253Windmills In Great Lakes

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  • mtneuman@juno.com
    Jun 2, 2006
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      Next Flap: Windmills In Great Lakes

      Winds Strong, Steady Over Water
      The Capital Times :: FRONT :: A2
      Monday, May 29, 2006
      By Todd Richmond Associated Press

      Little red lighthouse. Beach boardwalks. The blue-green waters of Lake
      Michigan stretching to the horizon. Just another pretty-as-a-postcard day
      on the shores of this sleepy town of 5,700 about a half-hour east of
      Green Bay.

      But changes could be in store for Algoma and other towns and cities that
      line the Great Lakes. Energy experts are set to meet in Madison and
      Toledo, Ohio, next month to talk about the prospects of implanting giant
      electricity-generating windmills in the Great Lakes.

      Advocates say offshore wind turbines would be a power generation jackpot.
      Opponents are cringing, fearing the windmills' impact on the lakes'
      aesthetics, tourism and fishing.

      "I'll fight this every way I can," said Algoma Ald. Ken Taylor, chairman
      of the city's marina committee. "The beautiful view we have would be
      destroyed ... how many (tourists and fishermen) are going to come here if
      we have these things off our coastline?"

      Offshore turbines would be a risky undertaking for any utility. To
      generate a sizable amount of power, a company would have to install rows
      of them, either anchoring them to the lakes' bottom in relatively shallow
      water or allowing them to float. Price tags could stretch into the tens
      of millions of dollars.

      The turbines would be huge, towering as high as 400 feet with blade spans
      wider than a football field, said Walt Musial, senior engineer and
      offshore programs leader for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a
      U.S. Department of Energy contractor. Musial is scheduled to make a
      presentation at a June 14 conference at the University of
      Wisconsin-Madison.

      The payoff would come in increased energy production, Musial said. Winds
      over water are generally stronger, less turbulent and more consistent
      than on land. Major population and industrial centers such as Cleveland,
      Chicago, Gary, Ind., and Milwaukee sit on the Great Lakes' shores,
      reducing the need for long-distance transmission and providing an energy
      boost at the same time, he added.

      "Offshore machines can make about twice as much as onshore," Musial said.
      "It's a potentially big resource for renewable energy. You want to
      generate the electricity close to where people are going to use it."

      The concept isn't new. Several European nations, including Denmark and
      Great Britain, have developed wind farms in the North and Baltic seas,
      said John Dunlop, senior outreach representative with the American Wind
      Energy Association.

      Houston-based Superior Renewable Energy plans to build a 170-turbine farm
      in the Gulf of Mexico about 10 miles off Padre Island. Another 50
      turbines are planned off Galveston, Texas, and at least two other
      offshore projects have been proposed on the East Coast -- one off Long
      Island and another off Cape Cod.

      But the idea has been slow to catch on in the Great Lakes region.

      Green Energy Ohio last fall built a wind-monitoring tower three miles off
      Cleveland's Lake Erie shoreline to test the lake's potential for offshore
      turbines. But the state is looking toward land-based turbines, said Merle
      Madrid, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Development.

      "Offshore siting, particularly in fresh water environments, contains too
      many technical unknowns at this time, though we continue to be engaged in
      the research," Madrid said.

      Officials with both the Michigan and Wisconsin public service commissions
      say they haven't seen any proposals for offshore wind in the Great Lakes.

      Still, a 2004 report commissioned by the Wisconsin Focus on Energy
      Program, a partnership between the state and utilities to promote
      renewable sources, to study Lake Michigan wind speeds and shallows found
      the southern coastline holds great promise.

      Seventh Generation Energy Systems, a nonprofit engineering firm, built a
      $114,500 tower two miles off Racine's Lake Michigan shoreline last August
      to monitor wind speeds for three years. The state chipped in $49,000 for
      the project.

      Seventh Generation executive director David Blecker said the firm has no
      interest in building offshore turbines, but would-be developers could use
      the wind-speed data.

      "The Europeans have shown again and again it can make sense," Blecker
      said.

      Anyone who attempts an offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes would face
      formidable hurdles. Aside from the cost of construction -- the Padre
      Island project is expected to ring in at $1 billion to $2 billion --
      developers also would have to navigate a web of federal and state
      permits.

      The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over structures in the
      lakes, said Steven Metivier, a corps biologist in Buffalo, N.Y. He is
      scheduled to speak at the Toledo conference June 27-29. Developers also
      would have to lease tracts of lake bottom from the states, which hold the
      underwater property rights, Metivier said. Plus, state utility regulators
      would have to sign off.

      Hanging over every proposal would be the potential impact on fish
      habitats, lake bottoms and migratory birds. And the big question -- what
      happens to the view that towns like Algoma cherish?

      "That's the No. 1 problem we face today in getting this industry started.
      Visual pollution is preventing the country from embracing them," Musial
      said. "I think we're all just getting up to speed, trying to qualify the
      uncertainties."

      Rob Benninghoff is the director of renewable and special projects for
      Wisconsin Public Service Corp., which supplies power to much of
      northeastern Wisconsin, including the Green Bay area. The utility is
      watching offshore developments on the East Coast and might consider
      purchasing cheap power from independent companies that build turbines in
      Lake Michigan, he said.

      But the utility itself is reluctant to pour rate payers' money into a
      difficult permitting process -- at least for now.

      "I see it as a high-risk proposition," Benninghoff said. "I don't know of
      anyone who's got any plans to do anything in Lake Michigan or the bay or
      anything. Not to say it won't move in that direction ultimately."

      Not if Ken Taylor has anything to say about it. Last year, 14,000 boats
      left the city's marina, the Algoma alderman said. On summer nights so
      many boats are anchored offshore their lights make the lake look like a
      city, he said. He doesn't want that to change because of giant windmills.

      "To see all these things sitting up in the air would destroy it," he
      said.
      http://www.madison.com/archives/read.php?ref=/tct/2006/05/29/0605290092.p
      hp

      Some Don't Want Giant Windmills

      There's Talk Of Putting Them In Lake Michigan To Generate Electricity.
      Wisconsin State Journal :: LOCAL :: B1
      Monday, May 29, 2006
      TODD RICHMOND Associated Press
      A little red lighthouse. Beach boardwalks. The blue-green waters of Lake
      Michigan stretching to the horizon. Just another pretty-as-a-postcard day
      on the shores of this sleepy town of 5,700 about a half-hour east of
      Green Bay.

      But changes could be in store for Algoma and other towns and cities that
      line the Great Lakes. Energy experts are set to meet in Madison and
      Toledo, Ohio, next month to talk about the prospects of implanting giant
      electricity-generating windmills in the Great Lakes.

      Advocates say offshore wind turbines would be a power generation jackpot.
      Opponents are cringing, fearing the windmills' impact on the lakes'
      aesthetics, tourism and fishing.

      "I'll fight this every way I can," said Algoma Alderman Ken Taylor,
      chairman of the city's marina committee. "The beautiful view we have
      would be destroyed ... how many (tourists and fishermen) are going to
      come here if we have these things off our coastline?"

      Offshore turbines would be a risky undertaking for any utility. To
      generate a sizable amount of power, a company would have to install rows
      of them, either anchoring them to the lakes' bottom in relatively shallow
      water or allowing them to float. Price tags could stretch into the tens
      of millions of dollars.

      The turbines would be huge, towering as high as 400 feet with blade spans
      wider than a football field, said Walt Musial, senior engineer and
      offshore programs leader for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a
      U.S. Department of Energy contractor. Musial is scheduled to make a
      presentation at a June 14 conference at UW-Madison.

      The payoff would come in increased energy production, Musial said. Winds
      over water are generally stronger, less turbulent and more consistent
      than on land. Major population and industrial centers such as Cleveland,
      Chicago, Gary, Ind., and Milwaukee sit on the Great Lakes' shores,
      reducing the need for long-distance transmission and providing an energy
      boost at the same time, he added.

      The concept isn't new. Several European nations, including Denmark and
      the U.K., have developed wind farms in the North and Baltic seas, said
      John Dunlop, senior outreach representative with the American Wind Energy
      Association.

      Houston-based Superior Renewable Energy plans to build a 170-turbine farm
      in the Gulf of Mexico about 10 miles off Padre Island.

      But the idea has been slow to catch on in the Great Lakes region.

      Green Energy Ohio last fall built a wind-monitoring tower three miles off
      Cleveland's Lake Erie shoreline to test the lake's potential for offshore
      turbines. But the state is looking toward land-based turbines, said Merle
      Madrid, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Development.

      Officials with both the Michigan and Wisconsin public service commissions
      say they haven't seen any proposals for offshore wind in the Great Lakes.

      Still, a 2004 report commissioned by the Wisconsin Focus on Energy
      Program, a partnership between the state and utilities to promote
      renewable sources and to study Lake Michigan wind speeds and shallows
      found the southern coastline holds great promise.

      Anyone who attempts an offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes would face
      formidable hurdles. Aside from the cost of construction -- the Padre
      Island project is expected to ring in at $1 billion to $2 billion --
      developers also would have to navigate a web of federal and state
      permits.

      The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over structures in the
      lakes, said Steven Metivier, a corps biologist in Buffalo, N.Y. He is
      scheduled to speak at the Toledo conference June 27-29. Developers also
      would have to lease tracts of lake bottom from the states, which hold the
      underwater property rights, Metivier said. Plus, state utility regulators
      would have to sign off.

      Hanging over every proposal would be the potential impact on fish
      habitats, lake bottoms and migratory birds. And there's the big question
      -- what happens to the view that towns like Algoma cherish?

      "That's the number one problem we face today in getting this industry
      started. Visual pollution is preventing the country from embracing them,"
      Musial said. "I think we're all just getting up to speed, trying to
      qualify the uncertainties."
      http://www.madison.com/archives/read.php?ref=/wsj/2006/05/29/0605280483.p
      hp