Updated: Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009, 11:52 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009, 3:55 PM EST
LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) - Emotions ran high Tuesday night as many residents voiced their concerns over the future of tourism in Ludington. Others at the wind turbine meeting were in favor of the alternate energy and the possibility of creating a new industry and more jobs.
The developers of the proposed project, Scandia Wind, made its presentation to a packed house at West Shore Community College. The project calls for 100 to 200 wind turbines to be placed in the waters of Lake Michigan, about 3.7 miles off shore.
The 1,000 megawatt Ludington Wind Farm would span 100 square miles between southern Mason County and central Oceana County.
The turbines would sit about 300 feet above the water and produce enough energy to power thousands of households.
The key to harnessing and transferring the energy is the existing Ludington pump station that would act as a battery, developers say.
"(The) Ludington area for offshore wind power is the best site in the United States of America," said Harald Dirdal of Scandia Wind.
But there are many concerns and drawbacks, including aesthetics and the impact on fishing, boating and the environment.
The first negative gasp from the audience came when developers showed a mock-up display of what the wind farm would look like from the shore line.
"Pentwater is almost 100 percent reliant on tourism," one resident said.
And developers say placing the turbines farther off shore and out of sight would increase costs dramatically. They also admit, some birds will die. But the wind farm will produce natural reefs for fish, according to a Scandia Wind representative.
Members of the boating industry expressed concern about the size of the project.
"It could be devastating to our economy," said Ken Friedrich of the marina industry. "All we have left in Michigan is tourism and recreation and boating."
The developer's main selling point is that building the foundation alone could produce 2 million man hours and create thousands of short- and long-term jobs to maintain the facility.
"There will be a boom in this city," Dirdal said. "That this city has never seen."
The unique properties off Lake Michigan will require new technology to put the turbines in place. The project's cost is estimated at $3 billion and could take between five and 10 years to get up and running.
Neither city or county officials have taken an official position on the issue. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Army Corps of Engineers are responsible for any offshore facility.
Because this is a new endeavor, the project may require new state legislation to get off the ground.
If and when Scandia Wind gets all the permits and approvals to move forward, it will sell its shares in the project to another company that will do the construction.
A series of public meetings will continue in January.