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Posted on Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Wind power key to a cleaner, healthier future for Michigan

By Letters to the Editor


Lisa Allmendinger |

By voting to bring wind energy to town, the Ann Arbor City Council is leading the way for a clean energy future. As wind power grows across Michigan, it’s taking a bigger bite out of our dependence on fossil fuels — meaning cleaner air and water, less global warming pollution, and better health for Michiganders.

Wind power in Michigan already prevents as much global warming pollution as taking 48,000 cars off the road per year, and could prevent as much as taking an additional 169,000 cars off the road by 2016 if wind growth continues at current rates.

As reported by on Tuesday, the wind turbine project will not only be good for the environment, it will also create educational opportunities for students and the community. We thank the Ann Arbor City Council for supporting wind power and a cleaner, healthier future.

Virginia Shannon

State Associate

Environment Michigan



Mon, Jan 21, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

These windmills are nothing but killing fields for birds. It is estimated that over 500,000 migratory birds annually are killed by these windmill blades blowing in the wind. Included are several score of bald eagles, the symbol of our nation, more meeting their demise with another worthless technology (wind) than by poachers.


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

wind power could be good if it were more effecient. However many wind mills I have seen are not moving or do not generate enough power. I read within the last year there is a man in England trying to develope a low profile unit that could be put on the top of a building or side of a high rise that would "catch" more wind yet would be about the size of an air condition unit. (the prototype was about as tall as a story) The fan blades were horizontal and angled and wider and protected from bird strikes. Also when building highrises there would be built in mills that would harness wind that developes in very urban areas due to "tunnel" effect. Thus the units would not effect the look of a building and could be placed on an existing building. Just as with most things technology will get better regarding the mills.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

Rational engineers and physicists do understand some things. Like a black box. Put the box in space and radiate it with solar energy. The box will heat up or re-radiate the energy back into space. When the energy coming in and leaving reaches a steady state then the temperature of the box should also reach a constant, too. If the box heats up and absorbs energy like a biological sponge until it reaches a saturation point then, when the absorption stops, the box should continue to heat up or re-radiate the excess energy until a new energy balance and steady state temperature occurs. Fossil fuels in the box are chemically stored energy like a sponge. Burning them is like squeezing the sponge. It releases past energy in the form of heat and carbon gases that trap even more new energy from the sun. What can only happen to the box when fossil fuels are burned? Either it must absorb the added energy in a new way like spongy weather change or it will heat up until a new steady state temperature in space is reached. And guess what? Both the weather is becoming more extreme and the box is heating up - just as those rational engineers and physicists might predict. Wind and solar power take the sun energy coming in and process it in real time. Some transfer like friction heat and noise occurs but it is still in real time and is not added heat from the past.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

The space suit "box" that astronauts work in must have air conditioning that exhausts their body heat.. Like fossil fuels on Earth, their food calories are stored energy which are then converted into heat which has to go somewhere. Or they are boiled alive inside their box.

Hot Sam

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

In all of these windmill discussions, something never seems to be brought up... In order for the wind to make any thing happen, a very large amount of copper must move through a very large amount of magnetic material... No where in these discussions is there mention of a new copper mine, or other source of these earth elements that make any of this possible...

Hot Sam

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

I hear ya Bragg...all of the neodymium used in the audio devices I sell is coming from China...the folks who are so in to these windmills would be vehemently opposed to a new copper or magnet mine... Are we going to become dependent on Chinese magnets???


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

Most rare earth metals used in permanent magnet brushless machines are located in China/Asia and South America. Induction machines are an alternative but they are heavier and less efficient.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

The City of Ann Arbor requires private businesses developing new buildings to take out bonds for many reasons. ...even landscaping. Should a developer fail to put in enough trees, the City takes the bond and puts in the trees themselves!! We need to do the same thing with these green energy schemes. Those promoting this scam tell us how much colder the earth will get as the result of the windmills and the taxpayers then require they buy a bond for the full value of the windmill plus the cost of tearing it down. Should the earth not get any colder after the windmills are installed, the ENVIRONMENTALIST making the absurd claims forfeits his bond and the embarrassments are then torn down and sold for scrap! ...they would be recycled into pop bottles, plastic bags, etc.! Circle of life and EVERYBODY HAPPY and for a change, the eco lies cost the taxpayers nothing.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

While city council debates the advantages of installing two windmills, I hope they look toward Traverse City and see what a Michigan utility company is doing with their windmill. According to a Detroit News article, "Michigan utility may pull plug on windmill near Traverse City", put up its windmill back in 1996, paid $7845,000, and it still hasn't paid itself off. That is 17 years! It was recently down for 4 months, while the utility company looked for a part that costs $38,000. The tower/windmill is 160 feet tall. And Ann Arbor wants to put two of these in? For educational purposes? If I remember correctly, a millage was passed recently allowing the school district to upgrade its computers and networks, all in the name of education. Why can't we use these new computers for the students to see how these windmills work? They can learn how windmills are made, engineered, diagrams, how much wind it takes, etc. This can all be done in the classroom, without wasting more of the taxpayers dollar.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Lets get it on the table, along with insurance for taxpayers in the event that the Green Fashion movement fails to DELIVER their promised results! Which "environmental groups" are going to reimburse Michigan and US Tax Payers when the results they promise don't materialize? Since future generations of taxpayers will be paying this money back to the Chinese during their entire working lives, some eco insurance would be prudent.....along with the names of who are wasting their money in BIG LETTERS. WE WANT THEIR NAMES PROMENTENLY RECORDED. Others claim this is a $1.4 million dollar "educational tool"!? Really? Brought to you by an Obama government borrowing $40,000,000,000 PER DAY from the communist Chinese on top of the vast billions the worst president in a century has wasted with his corrupt green crusade? just can't make this stuff up......but it makes sense to the AA City Council!! LOL


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

I think it's admirable that young people fresh out of small liberal arts college with their 2011 degrees in "Environmental Studies" also have a passion for engineering! Especially something as complex as the electrical engineering, utility design, economics and the public policy associated with it. While new hobbies are great, there is no doubt that our educations can effect our opinions – especially among the youth. But when it comes to advising the City of Ann Arbor about windmill construction, the basis of that recommendation is relevant. Many with such ready eco advice today tend to be so invested in the "environmental fashion movement" that they find no connection between value and the rational engineering basis for energy. IN fact, low cost energy that has been powering Michigan for generations is suddenly a "problem". Even worse, others only see "free money" in the form of lavish Obama taxpayer funded gifts borrowed from the communist Chinese that simply don't require the annoying burden of making any sense. Many in the eco fashion movement think nothing of sighting baseless, empty statistics that appear to confirm that windmills in Michigan are steadily making the planet colder! Without a shred of shame, we are basically told that Michigan consumers who dare to drive cars or heat their homes in fact control the planet's weather! LOL We have heard this eco hysteric drivel for a few years now, but where's the DATA? ...and what is the GOAL? What is the Al Gore Global Thermostat Setting (AGGTS) that you think the planet chould be changed to? LOL How cold do you want the planet to be? LOL ..and more importanlty to this topic, please tell us how many Michigan windmills will it take to drop the earth's temperature to reach that number? Lets get it on the table, along with insurance for taxpayers in the event that the Green Fashion movement fails to deliver the promised results!


Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

@ bragglaw - I hear you - it's brutal out there - no substance required. My favorate year this decade is 2004 when a writer with a 4 year degree in reading/writing, which many of us learned in the 1st grade, declared the "human controlled global weather fraud debate" over!! Oh the power of those non-technical liberal arts degrees is really something! @Bryan - Du ya thynk you mised the biger piture? If I do feel the need to hire a copy boy though, I'll let you know. LOL

Bryan Ellinger

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

Shep, how can we take seriously the opinion of a person that doesn't know the difference between affect and effect, or sighting and citing? Please.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

I have run into the same issues with many art history majors working as waitresses or trying to get a gov.t job. I got into an argument over a complex engineering issue (which I used to do for a living) and of course the philosophy and art history majors knew more.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

Wind is a pipe dream due to to the availability of cheap clean natural gas in this country. When wind becomes price competitive I will put a windmill up in my yard.

Robert Gordon

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

Look at any natural gas price chart. $1.80 per mmBTU nine months ago. $3.40 per mmBTU now. Who is paying attention to reality?


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

I don't how to say this, but you are wrong. The U.S. has one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world and prices are falling. I take it you are in the commodities business? I thought not. Markets rule not liberal fantasies.

Robert Gordon

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

"Cheap clean" natural gas is a fiction that the industry has brought upon us. Prices have nearly doubled since April, 2012. And as there are more moves to make a single world market as there is for oil, gas prices will expand further. While gas is cleaner than coal, that hardly makes natural gas "clean". Almost anything seems "clean" when compared to coal.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

There is a windmill on a ferm outside of Saline, it may be the one in the picture. I have never seen the blades turning, anyone know why it is not being used?

average joe

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

The one you refer to is indeed the one pictured. I heard that it was damaged by the same storm system that brought us the Dexter tornado last spring, and it had to be sent back overseas(?) to be repaired. It wasn't 'up-&-running' very long before this happened.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

If wind projects are really the future, then lets have some honesty from our politicians. Post online total cost to install and run windmill. Put facts out there for everyone to see. All costs listed, admin costs, cost to build transmission lines, cost to maintain, actual output and other costs not listed. An actual full accounting. Think powers that be are willing to do that?

Bob W

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

I 'm very much a supporter of renewable energy however, from my research, commercial turbines require an average wind speed of 13 mph. Ann Arbor's average windspeed is only 9 mph and since this isn't horseshoes, close doesn't count.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 5:05 p.m. be clear, the minimum wind speed the already uneconomical windmills function is 19 to 23 mph. You are totally correct that Ann Arbor is an especially insane place for them.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

Your research is wrong - it's 19 mph.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 10:03 a.m.

Unless youv'e benn living on mars or have just returned from a 2 year stint in the antartic..prince john and his merry band of greenies don't give a damn about anything but dipping into your wallet for thier pie in the sky ( in this case literally ) projects ..they proposed this malarky a few years his little train it just keeps going around and around and around..this is Ann Arbor ...we leave common sense and reality @ the city limits....


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 2:50 a.m.

"Wind power in Michigan already prevents as much global warming pollution as taking 48,000 cars off the road per year..." How many cars are propelled by wind power?

Robert Gordon

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 2:19 a.m.

Virginia, the Huron River Valley, in which the city of Ann Arbor sits, is not a great place for wind energy. Solar is another matter, of course. I wanted proposal 3 to pass as much as you did, but $1.4 million dollars for marginal winds is not the wisest use of resources, in my opinion.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

Dreamer... pie in the sky. Not windy enough here to be reliable or cost effective. Maybe over by Lake Michigan, or up in the UP near some parts of Lake Superior, but not in the little city in a river valley.

Dog Guy

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:52 a.m.

Environmental science students study grant writing and polemics under Professor Chicken Little, leaving litle time for physical sciences. When a paycheck sustains blind faith, some Japanese call it "rice religion."


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : midnight

Let's face it folks, this is where we are heading. The future is coming, hold on to your bonnets!


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 5:06 a.m.

The known unknowns that we now know have little to do with what is unknowable!


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

"hold onto your bonnets!" Expression from the model-T era. Where cars could get up to 40 mph and the unpredictable wind forces at that speed did scary things like rip the car bonnet clean off. Yep. The unknowns of the future are always a little scary, and yet exciting.


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

I saw a couple of windmills on 696 today and they were spinning like crazy.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

Ann Arbor is no 696.


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

The 300 plus comments on the UM installation of solar were overwhelmingly in favor of sunshine energy here (obviously a few stopped reading after the first coupel of whiners). Wind power is great in the "thumbs up" region and a few other choice spots. According to the gentleman at the Energy Commission meeting, there is a backlog of thumb suppliers waiting to hook into the grid and he is set to build several huge windmill farms with his own grid connect ready to go. What's the holdup? Investor concern because of Lansing's good ol' school foot dragging.. Wind is not as practical for Ann Arbor as much as solar is today (and perhaps fusion will be).


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

The K clan paid to undermine the teacher unions. Their investment in shale oil is beginning to look sour because of spreading pollution concerns in that pristine part of Canada (NYTimes). Once our military leaves the Middle East for the Chinese to struggle with, US oil will become a strategic asset making home grown energy a must for everyone else - including the auto industry..


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

As long as the state is being run by the Koch brothers, we better like fossil fuels. The Rickster and his Michigan Taliban are fighting Science with their brand of religious dogma funded by the Kochs. 2014 is coming sooner than they think.


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

Lousy sources and a bit of number stretching maybe? I have a coal fueled furnace and just for you Virginia, I'm going down to the furnace and throw in a shovelful of sulfur, a mercury thermometer and an old tire.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 3:39 a.m.

I love mine too. You can burn ANYTHING in there. Car tires are a little too big to fit in mine. I get old ATV and garden tractor tires from the junk yard. They burn forever.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 3:37 a.m.

Wow you liberal, talk about personal attacks?? Wh, if you are so anti judgemental, would you judge me and have the audacity to infer that I am either maried and or have children?


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:37 a.m.

May your children enjoy the sulfur and mercury. Perhaps you had too much when you were growing up?


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

In the meantime, a huge amount of commercial building roof area in Ann Arbor receives lots of usable sunlight every year. Couldn't DTE lease this space from the building owners, as a win-win for everyone?


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

Corrected headline: "By voting to bring wind energy to town, the Ann Arbor City Council is leading the way for more folly." Cost per kw in this instance is enormous. Of course, this would be the technology source they choose. It's part of their operating formula in almost everything they do: 1) Enormous cost with little benefit due to lack of economy of scale. 2) No relation to their charge of fiduciary responsibility and service to taxpaying citizens and families. Need to see windmills for educational purpose? Look at Youtube, etc.


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

The article on solar power garnered 300+ comments, mostly negative. Wait until people hear the windmills, much less look at them.

Jim Mulchay

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 9 p.m.

I think the response to the university's north campus solar panel project illustrates part of the problem. There are very few people against "green" energy. There are also very few people who want industrial strength windmills, solar panel fields or nuclear power plants in their neighborhoods. The university's project is said to produce sufficient power for 100 homes - that, to me, makes more sense than a small "demo" windmill project. If the mayor and city council are serious about windmills, layout a plan to get a significant return on investment - if the city will support this, it will go ahead. If not, then it is time to come up with another option.


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

This is stupid. Spending the money on education about smart energy use like better insulation, replacing old lights with new technology, etc., would impress the kids. It would even have a positive return on investment. This is wasteful. How is this "green" except to the turbine dealer who profits while laughing at windless A2 installing them. If you want to impress the kids use the money to take them on a field trip to a windfarm that actually is productive.


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

Can't wait to see all of these being built over in the "historic" west side since they're so green friendly over there. Or maybe they want them all built in Ypsi. lol

Basic Bob

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

"if wind growth continues at current rates" If we install enough windmills we could slow the earth down. Then what?


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

People might begin to fall off the planet. Its not only Earth slowing we've got to worry about. There's the yearly drag around the sun and then there's the slowing around the center of the galaxy. Alien planets will start to pass us by. Laughing at those slowski carbon units below.


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 11:44 p.m.

Gosh, I hope the Earth spins faster to compensate, or, well, trouble ensues!


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

Turn the windmills around...damn I have to teach you everything?


Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

Sorry B/B. The voters don't get sarcasm.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

The main educational opportunity will be explaining to students why it makes no practical sense to put a windmill in Ann Arbor. It may never create enough energy to offset the initial cost, but since the federal government is paying with grant money, it doesn't matter. Forget that the money could be spent to put up a windmill someplace it would actual generate electricity. But none of these lessons will be taught. They will gaze in admiration at the stationary windmill and the plaque with Mayor Hieftje's name. They will think what a visionary he must have been.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

I agree that wind power is good, but how do you create enough wind to power the wind mills in Ann Arbor? There's one at the VA hospital and that never moves. Do you create 2 windmills? One to create the wind and the other to catch it?


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

You should not agree that wind power is good. It is a very uneconomical form of power in the best cases. In the worst cases, it is a complete failure as it will be in Ann Arbor where there is not much wind. The argument for wind power is a circle of lies and false claims by those lining their pockets with eco money. We shoud support the lowest cost power practical - likely coal - that keeps the cost of living and working in Michigan as low as possible as our economy competes with the rest of the country and the world.


Sun, Jan 13, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

We could move council meeting to the base of the windmill, then they could be driven be the hot air from council discussions.