MARQUETTE - In other areas of the country, wind turbines are often set up in large open areas such as farm fields. But for communities in the Upper Peninsula interested in setting up wind turbines, the process is often complicated by the surrounding terrain.
To help communities across the U.P. navigate the physical and ecological challenges of setting up wind energy sources, the Superior Watershed Partnership recently received a $36,000 grant from the Michigan Coastal Management Program. The grant will allow the SWP to develop a conservation model for potential wind power development across the U.P.
"There's a lot of things to take into account when considering wind in the Upper Peninsula," said Carl Lindquist of the SWP. "The U.P. poses some interesting challenges for wind development."
Although many areas in the U.P. have adequate wind resources, the land also has some high, rocky terrain to deal with, as well as wetlands and forests. By studying two areas that represent many of those challenges, the SWP can put together a model to help communities overcome those challenges. The two sites the model will be focusing on are north of the Dead River within the city of Marquette and in a commercial forest site outside the city limits. Those two sites, however, are only being used to develop the model, and are not being considered for wind development themselves.
Helping out with various aspects of the study are students from three different departments at Northern Michigan University - the Environmental Science Department, the Engineering/Alternative Energies and the English departments.
"A lot of different parts of the study will involve different disciplines," Lindquist said. "It's giving the students real-world experience."
Work on the model has already begun and is expected to be finished by the end of March. The final model and report will be available for use by communities around the U.P.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.