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Those who attended Mark Steyn’s lecture in the Sports Complex on Tuesday night encoun­tered some­thing of a sur­prise: Standing out in front of the building, several neon-green-shirt-clad locals protested wind turbine devel­opment as Steyn’s audience filed into the Arena. He even spent the first few minutes of his speech talking about them.

The protesors were affil­iated with a group called the Inter­state Informed Cit­izens Coalition, Inc., which attempts to focus oppo­sition to projects such as wind tur­bines. The orga­ni­zation was founded by Kevon Martis, a former Vice Chairman of the Planning Com­mission for Lenawee County, Michigan. Martis says that “watching wind turbine devel­opers change zoning reg­u­la­tions [for wind tur­bines] got his attention.”

“To sum it up: the devel­opers are telling us, yeah, they’re 50 feet tall, but they’re a 1,000 feet away, so you won’t even notice.”

When Martis’ term on the com­mission ended, he reached out to others con­cerning what he saw as some of the draw­backs, such as “the noise, the dis­tur­bance of sleep, danger to wildlife, and decrease in property values.”

Both Martis and fellow Lenawee County res­ident and coalition member Josh Vancamp said wind energy is imprac­tical. Martis said that “wind energy only exists with a $52 per megawatt per hour subsidy, versus 66 cents per megawatt per hour for coal.”

According to Martis, Duke Energy Renew­ables, a part of Duke’s Com­mercial Busi­nesses, is seeking to establish wind tur­bines in Reading Township, a nearby locality. Vancamp also says that the nearest of these wind tur­bines would be estab­lished “less than five miles from the Roche Sports Complex.

Gretchen Oberdick, a Reading res­ident, was also at Steyn’s speech. She is a member of a group called “Save Reading Township” which wants stricter zoning reg­u­la­tions for the wind­mills, citing con­cerns similar to those of Martis.

“We’re a group of people with the same goal: proper siting of the wind tur­bines. Duke has requested them closer to res­i­dences than our research sug­gests is safe,” she said.

“We’re ded­i­cated to pre­serving Reading Township.”

Another Reading res­ident, Walt Sinzer, dis­agrees. He sup­ports the project thoroughly.

“There are a number of reasons I support these tur­bines,” he said. “I like the looks of them, they’re big, majestic, and provide non-pol­luting elec­tricity. Whether or not global warming is true, we’re pol­luting every time we burn oil and gas into the atmos­phere, and these tur­bines provide an energy source that’s free, we just have to pay for the machine.”

Sinzer also cited eco­nomic ben­efits for the town.

“The township receives tax money, and the school and the landowners receive money, all to be spent right here in Hillsdale County. Christine Bowman, who used to promote Hillsdale’s eco­nomic devel­opment, said that for every one dollar spent on the windmill, seven dollars will result. It snowballs.”

Sinzer said that the Save Reading Com­mittee has the wrong idea.

“Save Reading Committee…to save Reading, it needs a real shot in the arm. It was once a thriving little town, now there’s really not much going on here. What you need is money. I respect those people and their opinion, but I am disappointed.”

Sinzer’s views are similar to those of Duke Energy Renew­ables. A fact sheet pro­vided by Tammie McGee of Duke Energy Cor­porate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions details various mis­con­cep­tions they say people have about wind energy. For example, in response to the charge that wind farms are harmful to humans, the sheet rebuts that “wind energy is a benign tech­nology with no asso­ciated emis­sions, harmful pol­lu­tants, or waste products.”

The official website of the project says, “Com­munity ben­efits include a new source of tax revenue that the com­munity can count on year after year, a large number of con­struction jobs (and a smaller number of oper­a­tions jobs), and emission-free elec­tricity gen­erated locally.”

All inter­viewed parties men­tioned a Reading Township Council meeting on April 16, at which a dis­cussion of the project’s merits are to be held.

For now, this debate shows no signs of blowing over.