The idea that alternative energy can be captured from the winds coming off of the Great Lakes is gaining traction across the region.
Today, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that three separate groups are proposing the development of offshore wind farms in Wisconsin:
One of the Lake Michigan proposals, dubbed Radial Wind, calls for erecting 390 turbines about 18 miles east of Milwaukee.
Two other projects that have been discussed with state environmental regulators would be much closer to the shore: Ewindfarm Inc. of California has discussed putting 610 turbines one to two miles from the shore stretching from Kewaunee to Kenosha, according to documents submitted to the DNR.
Meanwhile, another unidentified developer has approached state officials with initial plans to build "a couple hundred" turbines in an area that would be located "within a few miles of shore" in east-central Wisconsin, [wind energy analyst Steve] Ugoretz said.
The chairman of Wisconsin's Public Service Commission also said that the state could find a "competitive advantage" to developing alternative energy industries in the Great Lakes, and Wisconsin is not alone. Officials in Ohio are hoping to place wind turbines off the coast of Cleveland in Lake Erie, and the most expansive plan comes from the Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center. That group has been pushing to place a turbine farm in the middle of Lake Michigan out of view from the coast:
A power consultant from Jackson has calculated that an 8,806-square mile area in the middle of Lake Michigan from northern Beaver Island to southern Chicago could house 36,400 towers -- equally spaced 2,050 feet apart -- none of which could be seen from the shoreline.
Proponents of all these plans caution that Great Lakes wind farming is a long way off. The projects would have to jump numerous regulatory hurdles and also overcome the objections of property owners who worry that turbines might ruin their view of the Lake. Some environmentalists are also concerned with how the turbines might impact the flight paths of migratory birds.
The State of Illinois doesn't appear to be considering any plans to install wind turbines in the portion of Lake Michigan under its jurisdiction. However, as we noted earlier this month, a 25,000-acre wind farm is slated for construction in central Illinois.