John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

An integrated assessment for wind energy in Lake Michigan coastal counties

The benefits and challenges of onshore and offshore wind energy development were assessed for a four‐county area of coastal Michigan. Economic, social, environmental, and spatial dimensions were considered. The coastal counties have suitable wind resources for energy development which could contribute toward Michigan's ten percent renewable energy standard. Wind energy is cost‐effective with contract prices less than the benchmark energy price of a new coal‐fired power plant. Constructing a 100 MW wind farm could have a $54.7 million economic impact. A patchwork of township‐level zoning ordinances regulates wind energy siting. Voluntary collaborations among adjacent townships standardizing the ordinances could reduce regulatory complexity. A Delphi Inquiry on offshore wind energy in Lake Michigan elicited considerable agreement on its challenges, but little agreement on the benefits to coastal communities. Offshore turbines could be acceptable to the participants if they reduced pollution; benefited coastal communities; involved substantial public participation; and had minimal impact on property values and tourism. The US Coast Guard will take a risk‐based approach to evaluating individual offshore developments and has no plans to issue blanket restrictions around the wind farms. Models showed that using wind energy to reach the remainder of the ten percent renewable energy standard could reduce SO2, NOx, and CO2 pollution by 4–7 percent. Turbines are highly likely to impact the area's navigational and defense radar systems but planning and technological upgrades can reduce the impact. The integrated assessment shows that responsible wind energy development can enhance the quality of life by reducing air pollution and associated health problems and enhancing economic development. Policies could reduce the negative impacts to local communities while preserving the benefits to the broader region. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2014 SETAC

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