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Riga Twp. wind turbines unlikely

Thursday, the developers announced they are backing down.

Posted by Dave Dykema - email

RIGA TOWNSHIP, MI (WTOL) - Opponents of wind turbines in Lenawee Co. may have won a bigger victory then they realize.

Thursday, the developers announced they are backing down.

Wednesday night, hundreds of people against wind turbines cheered at a meeting when the Riga Township trustees approved a new zoning ordinance.

It allows wind turbines, but puts major restrictions on where they can go.

Developers must have setbacks from non-participating properties, of four times the height of the turbine. Noise generated by the turbines cannot exceed 45 decibels during the day, and 40 at night.

Because of the strong setbacks, Exelon Wind and Great Lakes Wind, partners in the so-called Blissfield Wind Project, say they cannot put one turbine in Riga Township, despite having more than 4,500 acres of land available under signed agreements with landowners.

Doug Duimering of Exelon Wind said, "We don't have enough land to place turbines legally in Riga Township. Being compliant with the technical limits in this ordinance is impossible."

Duimering said they've determined Exelon would have to get almost every landowner in the township to sign on.

"Frankly, they need to be sited in the west where there is a lot of open space," Kevon Martis of the Informed Citizens Coalition said.

Martis says the Riga trustees sided with the citizens, over outside developers.

But many in his group at first saw it as a compromise, and not the total victory it appears to be.

"It took a little while on the phone and we will be handling out some mailers and stuff around the township to make people aware," Martis said.

Exelon Wind will now turn its attention to neighboring Ogden and Palmyra Townships, hoping any ordinance they approve would have fewer restrictions. The Informed Citizens Coalition likely has more battles ahead.

Exelon Wind says it will have representatives at any future meetings in the other towns.

Another wind developer, Juwi Wind LLC, has been interested in Riga Township.

An official told WTOL 11 he can't comment yet on their future plans.

But if the surrounding areas use the Riga ordinance as a model, the developers' green energy dreams may drift away.