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Environment & Climate Change

Is wind energy a viable option for Michigan?

Wind turbine
Tim Wang
flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
DTE expects to build around 50 wind turines in Sanilac and Huron counties. The company is reviewing bids from turbine makers now.

The potential of wind energy is just beginning to be realized in the U.S.

Some states have been embracing this technology to create electricity, but Michigan has been a little slower to put up as many wind turbines.

Mark Clevey, co-chair at the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative, and Victoria Pebbles, program director with the Great lakes Commission, joined us today.

“We have roughly 1,000 megawatts of wind in place,” said Clevey. “We have a 10% renewable energy portfolio standard, and the vast majority of that standard is being met by wind. Although we were a little bit late in the game, we came into the wind game at a really good time, because the price of wind dropped dramatically.”

One option to increase wind energy in Michigan is to build off-shore wind turbines, but this raises a number of concerns for people - including the noise of the turbines, their effect on wildlife, and their visual appeal.

Victoria Pebbles says wind production in Michigan would provide benefits beyond just more renewable energy. She says production would also bring more manufacturing jobs into the state.

Still, there are many skeptics.

“It’s true that wind doesn’t blow everywhere all the time, but wind is always blowing somewhere at some time,” said Pebbles.

“Most people that are involved with the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative don’t think that wind can be the silver bullet, that all of our energy needs can be met with wind. The idea is that it’s an important part of the region’s portfolio, and how can we make sure that that is maximized to the extent that it provides stable pricing, the cost of wind won’t change, that it’s clean, it doesn’t use any water, and it doesn’t have air emissions associated with it.”

-Michelle NelsonMichigan Radio Newsroom

Listen to the full interview above.

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