The Michigan Great Lakes Wind Council (GLOW Council) held a community meeting Wednesday, July 21, 2010, at the University of Michigan Fairlane Development Center in Dearborn to discuss offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes.
The GLOW Council was created by Executive Order 2009-1 and amended by 2009-46. Its purpose is to serve as an advisory body within the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth that examines issues and makes policy recommendations related to offshore wind energy development in the state of Michigan.
Discussions throughout the meeting centered on what the GLOW Council is, how it does its job and what the most favorable areas look like for offshore wind energy.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who appointed the 29-member council consisting of leading stakeholders and state agency representatives, was present and gave a presentation on why clean energy technology is important for the state.
“There’s four reasons why we want to go for clean energy technology,” Granholm said. This technology would create jobs, provide energy security and balance Michigan’s energy portfolio while also being environmentally benign.
Executive order 2009-46 charged the GLOW Council with the responsibility to “provide input on proposed and new Great Lakes Wind development legislation and rule-making as appropriate.” Thus, the council developed an outline of framework to fulfill the charge and has since forwarded it to the executive and the legislature.
The council fully expects that the content of the legislation will be refined and changed as it’s incorporated into legislation and reviewed by stakeholders during the legislative process. It has recommended key provisions for inclusion in bills introduced to regulate offshore wind energy development in the lakes. These include:
- Acknowledgement that the existing Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act doesn’t regulate offshore wind energy facilities
- A process that identifies potential sites
- An auction process for assigning development rights to sites
- Requirements for site assessment plans, development plans, construction plans, operation plans and decommissioning plans
- A process for public involvement in decision making
So far, the council has identified exclusion areas, conditional areas and favorable areas for offshore wind energy development. Exclusion areas include bottomlands that are not suitable for development because of existing issues or laws. Conditional areas are bottomlands that may have potential for development but have competing value such as wildlife habitat. The most favorable areas are bottomlands that do not contain any features defined by the screening criteria.
Screening criteria include fish spawning areas, threatened and/or endangered species, high bird and bat concentrations, sensitive bird or bat species and near shore habitats.
For further information about the GLOW Council and offshore wind energy, visit http://www.michiganglowcouncil.org.
Jennifer Griffin, Contributing Writer and Public Relations, GreeningDetroit.com
Jennifer is pursuing a degree in Journalism and English from Wayne State University, and she is also a Contributing Writer for The South End.