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.


  • Jeff King

    Muddled thinking.

    —“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.”

    True or not (and I tend to think it is true) this is really a property rights issue. Do I have the right to do with my property as I wish? I moved to a rural area because there was no zoning. I “pro­tected” my rights by buying enough property to make my neighbors activity less of a factor.

    Belive me, I’d much rather have a wind gen­erator 1000 feet from me then be downwind from a pig farm. But try and restrict the later in this county and see how far it gets you.

    • John Beck­stein

      It is about property rights to a degree. That is only one issue. Should my neighbor force me to accept an out of scale devel­opment that emits noise, flick­ering shadows and poten­tially stray voltage onto my property? I always thought a neighbor had rights up to their property line, but if his activ­ities stray in some way from his property, it becomes a nui­sance. Once that neighbor begins to emit from his property he impinges onto my rights. But those who have tur­bines always try to min­imize my right to be left alone by their noise, shadows etc. They try to paint a neighbor who doesn’t like their emis­sions as a com­plainer, obstruc­tionist, etc.

      But the bigger issue is the fact these things don’t work at all. They are a com­plete waste of tax money. I say “sure, build as many as you like, but do it WITHOUT my tax money.” If you can build wind tur­bines without tax sub­sides I will then say build them.

      (Sub­sidies include forcing me to buy the power from them…so don’t forget to take away the RPS forced market too, and forcing me to build power lines to them so they can off-load their junk energy…so don’t make me pay for your trans­mission. Sub­sidies also include arti­fi­cially killing the coal industry by reg­u­lating it out of exis­tance.)

      Now I think the picture becomes more clear. No tur­bines will be built if you don’t force me to pay sub­sidies. Build ‘em only if you and you alone can afford to do so. These things are of no benefit to society, so their is no real need for them other than to pad the pockets of GE, most of which are foreign com­panies eating our lunch.

      For all you union rah-rah types, why not slam Oba­ma­nation for out­sourcing more of your jobs and giving you the tem­porary bones over here? Fooled again by the polit­icals. Stop lis­tening to your union bosses who don’t tell the truth, and get real. Look around. Figure it out. You’ve been robbed and short changed. Now keep voting for them and it only gets worse cause they know they’ve got you fooled. Wait till your power bills double and triple. It is all planned shortages that will do it, caused in part by spending money on wind tur­bines that don’t work. That’s why no one likes your foolish support of these stupid mon­u­ments to greed. Because it will cost all of us in the end.….all because people are not using their brains…

  • Mr. King:
    In the most imme­diate sense to Reading Township, yes it is a property rights issue. Right to farm laws in Michigan give pro­tec­tions to agri­cul­tural uses that some may find obnoxious. But those same uses have existed for some time and can sometime be exected when one moves to a rural area. Wind tur­bines are NOT pro­tected by right to farm as they are indus­trial equipment being used for an indus­trial pur­poses. When the sug­gested “safety zone” for a large wind turbine is 500 meters, a non par­tic­i­pating property owner should not have to worry about their per­sonal safety while enjoying the full use of their own property. The fact is that these projects have mech­a­nisms that allow devel­opers to buy more res­i­dents into these projects, but the devel­opers refuse to use market mech­a­nisms.

    That’s because the wind devel­opers are not used to free markets. They sell a product that the state man­dates we all buy. While the issues that exist in Reading are playing out in other com­mu­nities in MI and across the US, it would also pay for us to ask our­selves why we are forcing expensive and unre­liable wind energy down ratepayers throats in a time when we should be doing every­thing in our power to reduce input costs.

    At the national level, wind energy has been heavily sub­si­dized for decades using tax payer dollars. Most of this money has dis­ap­peared overseas… although so far this year the main subsidy, the pro­duction tax credit, has not been renewed.

    It amazes me that with a straight face sup­posed con­ser­v­a­tives can embrace “green energy” and all of its sub­sidies. I guess the pay­check helps. The other side knows the score. Mark Schauer, the former 7th Dis­trict Democrat Rep that Tim Walburg defeated in 2010 attends these local township meetings (he was at the last Reading meeting) on behalf of big labor, pushing for these projects. He is part of a number of liberal special interest groups that are attempting to get the renewable port­folio standard (the mandate that forces us to buy renew­ables) increased to 25% this fall via a state con­sti­tu­tional amendment.

    Anyone at Hillsdale that has ques­tions or is inter­ested in working with the IICC or the Save Reading groups can contact me at and I can help you make contact with the appro­priate people.

  • One cor­rection to the story, the tur­bines in question in Reading would be approaching 500 feet tall, not 50 as the story says. This is a typo.

  • Laura Van Camp

    **TYPO IN ARTICLE – THE PROPOSED TURBINES ARE APPROXIMATELY 500 FEET TALL – NOT 50 – BIG DIFFERENCE!!** Go to for addi­tional infor­mation on every­thing from the neg­ative impacts, devel­opers claims, and the things you can do to get involved. Most of all GO TO YOUR (AND YOUR SURROUNDING) TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION AND BOARD MEETINGS AND SPEAK OUT!!

    Keep in mind that the tax revenue you are promised is miniscule in the scale of the other impacts you will be forced to endure AND if Gov. Snyder is suc­cessful in doing away with per­sonal property tax say bye-bye to that tax $ from the devel­opers because that’s where it’s going to come from!

    Jeff: Living in a farming com­munity, you are right, the farmers have the right to plow any time they need, kick up dust, spread manure, spray their fields, etc… Some­times it can be annoying but it’s a small price we pay to live in the country. The dif­ference is that the plow will not be in the field ALL day EVERY day – near your bedroom window making a low fre­quency noise that keeps you from sleeping or being able to con­cen­trate for the next 20 – 30 years. That’s not even taking into account the shadow flicker, ice throw from the blades, and many other problems that have been found when tur­bines are sited too closely to people’s homes. Bat/Bird blenders – oh I mean indus­trial wind tur­bines – are not agri­cul­tural and have no leg to stand on when talking “right to farm”.

    In regards to your property rights argument – I agree com­pletely! You have the right to do whatever you wish with your property UNTIL it affects your neighbor and his property rights. That is our main argument with the setback dis­tances and noise limits. As my good friend Kevon Martis likes to say it equates to, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins”. Regardless of who owns 1 acre and who owns 1000 acres we are all pro­tected under equal rights in the eyes of the law. If these wind tur­bines keep me from enjoying or SAFELY using my own property, what then?

    You DO NOT need zoning in order to protect your­selves from being taken advantage of. Ogden Township here in Lenawee county does not have zoning and recently enacted a Police Powers Ordi­nance that pro­tects res­i­dents from improperly and irre­spon­sibly sited indus­trial wind tur­bines and remains unzoned.

    I think when the tur­bines com (which they will if more res­i­dents don’t get involved) you will be singing a dif­ferent tune – the tune we’ve heard from people all over the mid-west who thought they would be won­derful until they were the ones forced to live with them rhyth­mi­cally turning day and night – and some even­tually forced to leave their homes because of it. I dare say they would counter you and take living by the pig farm any day.

    It just sickens me that the land­scape of the beau­tiful, unique, pre­cious, con­ser­v­ative Hillsdale College would be marred by this joke of a subsidy filled energy plan created by Obama and per­pet­uated by liberal greenies every­where. The irony of the tur­bines spinning over your heads (yes – even if they are 5 miles away it will feel like they are) on campus of the most con­ser­v­ative college in the country will NEVER be for­gotten long after the tur­bines are decom­mis­sioned and we’ve said “told you so” . Here are the numbers if you need to see why it just doesn’t work when talking straight elec­trical gen­er­ation.

    There are MANY other factors in play that many people new to the fight have no idea of, that we have been researching and uncov­ering for YEARS, but I can only comment so much on one article in the Col­legian. I just urge all to get involved and not expect others to protect YOU! Those neon-yellow IICC shirts were us in Lenawee County trying to wake you folks up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If you need any other reas­surance of their detriment to our well-being – phys­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally just remember that Mark Steyn is with us on this one.