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Workgroup begins drafting Great Lakes wind farm bill

By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

LANSING, MI –

At the state Capitol, a workgroup has begun the job of drafting legislation that would set the rules for windfarms off the Great Lakes shoreline. State Senator Patricia Birkholz is leading the workgroup. She says offshore wind power will require a shift in how people think of the Great Lakes.

"I think they're ready to start looking at it in a different way than they have in the past," she says. "That doesn't mean hundreds of thousands of turbines offshore. I don't see that happening here. I don't see the people supporting it, and I don't think we have the need for that many of them."

Wind energy experts say Michigan's biggest potential source of electricity is offshore wind turbines.

Some groups of shoreline residents say they want strict rules that will regulate where wind turbines can be located, how far offshore they must be, and how obsolete windmills will be decommissioned. Birkholz says she expects the bill to be ready sometime this fall, probably after the November elections.

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