How Effective Are Michigan’s Wind Turbines?
Driving through Gratiot County over the weekend, I was struck by the seemingly endless number of wind turbines. They began just north of Ithaca, and continued popping up along our drive to Midland.
Michigan didn't have wind turbines when I was growing up. This landscape looked alien to me. I found myself equal parts fascinated and curious about these gigantic structures looming over farmers' fields, and decided to learn more.
Even though there are a few more wind turbines generating electricity in Huron County (the tip of "The Thumb"), Mid-Michigan has led the state in output capacity in terms of megawatts since last summer. Together, Gratiot and Isabella Counties have 468 turbines accounting for a potential 1023 megawatts in output capacity. That compares to an output capacity of 872.2 megawatts by the 474 turbines that are spinning in Huron County. Additional turbines are operational or under development throughout the state, including a pair of wind farms in the Upper Peninsula.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 6% of Michigan's electricity currently comes from wind turbines. That represents about 60% of the state's renewable energy, with electricity generated from hydropower and biomass making up the rest. Only about 11% of Michigan's total energy production is renewable energy.
While wind power might be the wave of the future, it doesn't come easy. The U.S. Department of Energy admits concern over "the noise produced by the turbine blades and visual impacts to the landscape."
Michigan currently ranks 15th in the nation in wind power, with significant growth since 2016, and even more projected during the rest of this decade.
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