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Lake Michigan One Step Closer To Getting Wind Turbines

By JoshMogerman in News on Mar 31, 2012 8:00PM

Off-shore Wind Farm Turbine (Thames Estuary) [phault]
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, big offshore wind turbines are a tiny step closer to becoming a reality in Lake Michigan this week thanks to an agreement between the Obama administration and five Great Lakes states. Illinois is one of the states taking part in the process, which will put together guidelines to deal with the delicate balance of environmental concerns and safety with business needs for regulatory review of wind farms in the Lake.

This state is no stranger to the debate. Last year Governor Quinn signed a bill that created the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Energy Advisory Council, which came in response to Evanston’s interest in developing its own wind farm seven to nine miles off of its shoreline. Their recommendations are due to the Governor and General Assembly in June, making this agreement all the more timely for the town’s chief executive:

“I think it’s terrific news, because I was told when I first started exploring wind turbines in the lake that no one would put them in the lake because there were no rules governing how to do it,” Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl [told the Trib]. “So I’m delighted that five states made this pact and are looking at it. It’s exactly what they should be doing.”
Offshore wind has been a flashpoint across the Lake, in Michigan, where a number of offshore wind projects have been debated. A recent report from Michigan energy regulators that the cost of renewable energy sources had become significantly cheaper than development of new coal plants is sure to keep the cash-strapped state interested in the offshore wind concept, despite the fact that it is likely more expensive than onshore projects. A report from Michigan State University noted wind potential on and around the Mitten was likely enough to power the state if the Lakes were utilized.

We have high hopes for the state and federal processes, though the bird migration corridor in our area will certainly complicate any local plans. In the meantime, with Illinois’ wind boom waning, we will have to head to the South Side’s land-based turbines for our clean energy fix.