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Council wants idle wind turbine torn down

September 6, 2012
By JOHANNA BOYLE - Journal Staff Writer (jboyle@miningjournal.net) , Journal Ishpeming Bureau

ISHPEMING - The Ishpeming City Council voted 3-1 Wednesday to send a letter to the Ishpeming Housing Commission asking for removal of the wind turbine that stands outside the building.

Mayor Pat Scanlon was absent from Wednesday's regular council meeting and Councilman John Stone cast the dissenting vote.

"It's time to take the turbine down. I'm tired of looking at it," said Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Demarest.

Article Photos

The controversial wind turbine is seen standing outside the Ishpeming Housing Commission. (Journal file photo)

Demarest made the motion to send the letter, seconded by Councilwoman Elaine Racine, during the old business portion of the meeting. The issue was not included on the council's agenda.

What remains, however, is the question of how much weight a letter from the city will carry, as the housing commission operates as a separate entity.

City Manager Jered Ottenwess said during the meeting he didn't feel the wind turbine would become the city's responsibility.

"I don't know why the city would be responsible for the Housing Commission's property. It's a separate entity," he said.

During discussion, Demarest, Racine and Councilman Mike Tall all cited their concerns that the turbine - designed as a prototype and deemed too expensive to manufacture and install on a wide scale - would be left standing and would become the responsibility of the housing commission or the city.

Bryan Zaplitny, chief executive officer of Clean Green Energy, LLC, which owns the turbine, has previously stated the current turbine will be removed in the future and replaced with a smaller model the company is working on manufacturing.

The Housing Commission has not invested any money in the turbine project, and has an agreement to purchase any energy that might be produced by the turbine.

The Ishpeming turbine is not currently operating.

"I think it's a misguided motion," said Stone, who serves as the council's liaison with the housing commission board. "I think it's a personal vendetta. I wish you would research more before making a motion like that ... You can do whatever you want with three votes.

"I don't think it's good business for the city to tell businesspeople who have money invested what to do."

When asked by the other three council members what the timeline is for replacing the turbine, Stone said he did not know, but expressed his confidence in Zaplitny and the project.

"This is a win-win situation. It's a win situation for the Housing Commission and everyone living there," he said.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.

 
 

 

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