‘No’ vote will put horse before cart

To the editor:

Your April 16 editorial “Wind farm vote is about money plus much more” cited the alleged benefits of wind power. You warned L’Anse Township voters that it “will be coming” and that rejecting the permissive zoning changes in the May 7 referendum would mean ceding economic opportunity to other places in the UP.

Your editorial is misinformed. The estimated local tax revenues you cite for the proposed Summit Lake project — $35 million at $1.4 million for the next 25 years – are flat wrong. Renewable Energy Systems, the developer, initially claimed $34.7 million, but our questions a year ago about state school tax offsets revealed that the number is substantially less and now is estimated at $21.9 million, with no guarantee. Our questions about turbine valuation and depreciation were not addressed, nor were our concerns about potential losses to tourism, property values and wildlife. Further, RES would not benefit from the clean energy credits. It would pocket the subsidy for developing the project, then sell it to an operator, which might then sue to reduce if not eliminate their tax liability.

But that should come as no surprise. The Daily Mining Gazette reported on these issues as they were discussed at a series of township meetings. We are grateful for that coverage, but disappointed that you now ignore it in proposing that voters approve zoning changes that were written by and for developers with no consideration for protecting the health, safety and welfare of L’Anse Township and neighboring landowners. A resounding “No” vote will put the horse back before the cart by reminding officials to listen to their constituents – to fix the master plan before approving ill-considered, rushed zoning changes that would forever alter the very nature of the wild UP.

Yes, the UP has economic problems, but do they justify turning us into another Michigan Thumb, where nearly 800 turbine towers now mar the landscape along with transmission lines capable of supporting 2,000 more? We don’t think so, and trust that our experience will encourage other UP townships to carefully consider their future.

Wayne F. Abba

Skanee