FRANKFORT, Mich. – On May 25, The Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre (LST) will transform Oliver Art Center into the House of Capulet for An Evening in Verona — a 10th anniversary season fundraising event for northern Michigan’s own professional Shakespeare Company. In an effort to build community and highlight their 2013 Season, LST will treat guests to the music of wandering minstrels, local food, and wine — but the focus will be interactive scenes performed by the company.
Ever dream of being on stage? LST will auction off a walk on role during the 2013 Season performance of either Romeo and Juliet or The Comedy of Errors — or perhaps a public wooing would be more your style? Come ready to bid. In addition, there will be myriad opportunities to show your support for LST’s 10th anniversary through auction items, sponsorship, and of course, audience participation.
Highlighting the support of northern Michigan’s foodie scene, Jim Barnes and Suz McLaughlin will craft food provided by May Farm, Birch Point Farm, Echo Bend Farm, The Ant and The Grasshopper Farm, and Ware Farm into a modest feast fit for a Capulet — or a Montague. Glasses will be filled by Leelanau Vintner’s Association, “as an annual celebration of the culture & cuisine of Northern Michigan, the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival is dedicated to supporting the arts in our region,” explains festival director Laura Herd. “We are so excited to have Lakeside Shakespeare at our festival on June 22, and look forward to sharing wines from our 30 wineries at their fundraiser!”
An Evening in Verona is The Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre’s third event at Oliver Art Center, reinforcing a partnership which plans to bring dramatic arts education to northern Michigan year round. “The only people who could be happier to work with Lakeside Shakespeare than all of us at Oliver Art Center are the kids and young adults attending their fun, frantic, fantastic theater workshops,” notes Steve Brown, director of Oliver Art Center.
Tickets for An Evening in Verona will be available online at lakesideshakespeare.org, at Corner Drug, Charlie’s Natural Food Market, and the Oliver Art Center in Frankfort, as well as at Oryana Natural Food Market in Traverse City.
The mere mention of Shakespeare can either inspire or intimidate — which is why Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre has become such a beloved part of Northern Michigan—to know them is to love them. Come to Verona for an evening, and join in the community and revelry.
For more information on Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre, upcoming community events, and the 10th Season schedule, please see: lakesideshakespeare.org/
May 25 An Evening in Verona at Oliver Art Center. 7 p.m.
June 22 Members of LST will perform at the TC Wine and Arts Festival
July 4 LST will walk in the City of Frankfort Parade — an event for the WHOLE family. We’ll be making hats at Petals and Perks; find details on our website.
The Lakesides Shakespeare Theatre’s 10th Anniversary Season
Preview: Romeo and Juliet July 23rd and The Comedy of Errors July 24th
Romeo and Juliet directed by Jeff Christian, July 25, 27,30 and Aug 1
The Comedy of Errors directed by Scott Cummins, July 26, 28, 31 and Aug 2
2013 Summer Season will offer new and focused workshops:
Children’s Workshop(ages 5-10)
Wednesday, July 31st and Thursday, August 1, 10am to 1pm at Oliver Art Center
Friday, 2nd 10am to 1pm at Tank Hill
Performance at 6:15 at Tank Hill
This year’s workshop will be conducted by LST ensemble members and educational staff. Students will play games, learn simple (safe!) stage combat, and explore the world of Shakespeare. Then the group will be divided into teams, and with the guidance of our instructors, create their very own short plays. These playlets will then be performed for our audience on the evening of our final performance on Friday, August 2 at 6:15 p.m! For more details and to enroll, visit lakesideshakespeare.org
Young Adult Workshop
(ages 11 and up)
Thursday, July 25th and Friday 26th, 1:30pm to 3:30pm at Oliver Art Center
Saturday, July 27th 1:30pm to 3:30pm at Tank Hill
Performance at 6:15pm at Tank Hill
Participants will rehearse and perform a shortened version of Romeo and Juliet. There will be fight choreography and acting galore! The short play will be performed for our audience on Saturday, July 27th at 6:15pm! For more details and to enroll, visit www.lakesideshakespeare.org
Saturday, July 27th 1pm-3pm
at Oliver Art Center
Join members of the Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre ensemble and broaden your understanding of Shakespeare through study and analysis of Romeo and Juliet and The Comedy of Errors. For more details and to enroll, visit www.lakesideshakespeare.org
Photo by Aubrey Ann Parker, www.aubreyannparker.com/
From staff reports
On Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m., Frankfort’s Garden Theatre will show The People and the Olive, a documentary created by Aaron Dennis and Glen Arbor Sun editor Jacob Wheeler, as well as music by Joshua Davis from his forthcoming album “A Miracle of Birds”. The film follows this year’s Run Across Palestine — a five-day ultra-marathon across the West Bank of Palestine to illuminate the struggles of fair-trade olive farmers. Davis’ album is inspired by the run, and his experiences as a Jewish-American in Palestine. Learn more about the film here.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. for fair-trade olive oil tasting, a chance to meet some of the runners and shop for olive oil, Run Across Palestine shirts and DVDs of the film. A question-and-answer session with filmmaker Aaron Dennis will follow the movie. Tickets cost $10 and are available at Charlie’s Natural Food Market in Frankfort or at the door. An after party will follow at The Cabbage Shed in Elberta.
Our friend Emily Votruba down in Elberta, just south of Frankfort, in Benzie County recently started a community newspaper called The Elberta Alert. The Alert, which just published its second print edition with a run of a thousand copies, is whimsical, topical, and generating the kind of community dialogue that small towns need to survive in this era of corporate and media consolidation. We’re excited about this budding endeavor and will help in any way we can.
Votruba, and Elberta, just stumbled upon an alarming and disturbing report. The tiny town could fall prey to Governor Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled Michigan legislature’s controversial Local Government and School District Accountability Act. This means that debt-ridden and financially troubled Elberta could fall under government financial review and, hypothetically, the town could be disbanded and turned over to non-elected Emergency Managers. What would that mean? Selling off hereto preserved Lake Michigan frontage and Elberta’s pristine bluffs to developers in order to make Elberta solvent?
Much of the alarm stems from a story in today’s Benzie Record-Patriot (the newspaper of record in Benzie County) with the headline, “Elberta ‘Working Diligently’ on Financial Woes Cited by State”. In her story, “Elberta Placed on State Government Fiscal Watch List,” Votruba cites, and provides links to a chart published in the Detroit Free Press on April 6 that details where statewide municipalities and counties rate in terms of fiscal solvency. The Elberta Alert goes on to describe the town’s fiscal woes, including marina and condominium development that didn’t prove lucrative, expenses from the City of Milwaukee, lead and asbestos discovered at the waterfront park, and taxes that Native Americans no longer pay to Elberta.
Did you know that of all the 326 million cubic miles of water on earth, only about seven-tenths of one percent is accessible to humans? Whether you are watering your lawn or buying groceries or leaving your lights on, most of the decisions you make every day ultimately relate back to water.
Yesterday, March 22, was the 18th internationally recognized World Water Day, started by the United Nations as a way to educate and engage the masses to water pollution and scarcity problems around the globe.
In honor of this, last weekend the Benzie Community Water Council held its first annual Benzie County Water Festival, a celebration and education event. In August of 2006, the first Michigan Water Festival was hosted in the Straits of Mackinaw City, but the festival has since moved to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Traverse City, and even the far northlands of Marquette.
This past weekend’s events kicked off Friday night with a showing of Waterlife—a beautifully shot documentary that focuses on specific environmental problems facing the Great Lakes—featured at the stunning, newly renovated Garden Theater of Frankfort. There were more than 90 people in attendance, with donations to the Friends of Betsie Bay, a local non-profit that promotes “a community in harmony with nature.”
Karen Roberts of Elberta sponsored the film, which she first saw at the 2009 Traverse City Film Festival. Roberts attributed one scene in particular—in which a homeowner is mowing the riverbed that has been taken over by the invasive plant Phragmites, or “common reed”—as the major contributing factor for her membership in the FoBB.
The fast-multiplying Phragmites is currently threatening several Lake Michigan waters, including the Betsie Bay. Phragmites can reach up to 10-feet tall and becomes rooted along a water’s edge, blocking light to other plants and creating a monoculture by inhabiting much of the growing area. A variety of methods are used to control Phragmites—including burning, cutting, digging, draining, dredging, mowing, mulching, and pulling—and the removal costs can be colossal. Saginaw Bay recently paid $75,000 to aerially release herbicide over 120 acres, while Beaver Island spent an estimated $17,000 on 27 acres in 2007.
After the film, the party moved to the Cabbage Shed as the sub-Prime Blues Band—one of the festival’s first supporting partners, consisting of an eclectic group of players—took the stage.
Although concert attendees closed down the Elberta bar, many trickled in early Saturday morning, ready for the day’s full lineup of events.
“Get your refillable water bottles,” crooned Benzie Central freshman Majida Halaweh, pacing the Frankfort-Elberta Elementary School hallways, peddling BPA-free water bottles imprinted with husky paw prints.
Also meandering the halls was Kirby, a local singer and songwriter, touting his guitar and tooting his harmonica. The walls of the school were lined with drawings of baby seals and sailboats—some adorned with blue and red “Best of Show” ribbons—from Connie McLaren’s students at Crystal Lake Elementary.
Halaweh’s cohort, Bailey Barnes, was seated at one of a dozen tables, each housing a display from local, water-related organizations. Barnes’ father, Jim—owner of Traverse City-based Eco-Building Supplies, one of the festival’s sponsors—was across the hall demonstrating a low-flow flush toilet, while Liz Padalino gripped her Higher Grounds Coffee-filled mug and explained the difference between native and invasive Phragmites species to an onlooker of her Cooperative Weed Management display.
Filtering down to the gymnasium, festival attendees were welcomed by BCWC’s co-chair, Josh Stoltz, who introduced the first speaker.
“When I was growing up, Derek Bailey was one of my heroes,” 33-year-old Stoltz said of 38-year-old Bailey, now tribal chairman for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. “I had a photo of him in my notebook, because he was a basketball star from St. Francis.”
Bailey gave the audience of 50 a summary of the tribe’s unique position as a sovereign nation to litigate on behalf of all those who are interested in keeping the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. As a sovereign nation, the Band signs treaties with the U.S. government directly, and so its rights are placed bureaucratically above those of individual states—and, Bailey said, this could be the key to winning the case to close the Chicago locks.
According to Bailey, the revenue from ships passing through the locks is on the scale of millions of dollars, but the revenue that could be lost if Asian carp infest Lake Michigan would be on the scale of billions of dollars.
Bailey also said that—although he hasn’t yet been invited to play basketball in the White House, despite being appointed to the American Indian Education Advisory Council by the Obama Administration—he thinks he could “post up” the president.
During a lunch break, festival attendees were invited to again check out the displays that lined the hallway, as well as to dine in the school’s cafeteria. BCWC board member Suz McLaughlin and her slew of volunteers were selling homemade cookies and three varieties of locally sourced, heartwarming soups: Mediterranean chicken, potato chowder with bacon, and black bean citrus with sour cream and salsa.
Meanwhile, Marlene Wood-Zylstra of the Benzie County Recyclers—dressed head-to-toe in a “Green Fairy” costume—had multiple interactive games, puzzles, and exhibits for children and adults alike to explore water use, reuse, and pollution. Nearly 25 kids chose to continue the afternoon playing in the multipurpose room with Wood-Zylstra or to participate in a harmonica workshop with Kirby, while the adults filed back into the gymnasium for the next speaker.
Rob Karner, a watershed biologist and biology teacher at The Leelanau School, took the stage to speak on the importance of native plants.
“My title is watershed biologist,” said Karner, who has spent the last 15 years helping residents of the Glen Lake shoreline to reduce the impact of their lawns. “But really I’m more of a waterfront psychologist.”
Karner’s lecture prompted a great Q&A period in which residents of Lake Michigan, Platte Lake, Crystal Lake, and Bear Lake wanted more information on what they could do to create a buffering recharge zone for their lawns.
Some simple solutions:
• Replace patches of your Kentucky Blue Grass with native, long-rooted plants that help to filter runoff—leave only a patch of grass for playing yard games like bocce or croquet.
• Retain as many trees and shrubs as possible. Not only do their long-root systems protect the watershed, but they also serve as animal habitat and natural privacy—enjoy more visits from Bambi and less from Home Improvement’s Wilson.
• Take out your break wall, and cut back on your use of fertilizers—the more natural a landscape is, the better.
Following the theme of reducing a household’s impact on local water, Valerie Strassberg—a water resource engineer and international water-energy educator—made the trek up from Ann Arbor to do a workshop on greywater systems.
Strassberg gave a lively introduction to the relationship between water and energy, in which she invited Kirby to try to lift 10 milk gallons full of water—80 pounds in total.
“Each gallon of water weighs eight pounds,” Strassberg said. “The average American uses 98 gallons of water per day, which equals 784 pounds…can you imagine if we had to carry the water we used each day?”
Instead, water is readily available from our tap, Strassberg went on, pumped there by our public utility or home well. Strassberg informed the audience that they could reduce their households’ water usage—and slash their monthly water bill—by retrofitting a greywater system.
Greywater systems take water that would typically go to the city’s wastewater facility or your home’s septic tank and divert it for irrigating your lawn or garden. Greywater is sanitary for irrigation (not for drinking) because it is sourced from bathroom sinks, showers, bathtubs, and washing machines that have minimal pollutants. (Black water, Strassber noted, is water from dishwashers, kitchen sinks, and toilets that require a sanitation process to kill bacteria.)
Tying in nicely with the topic of home-water conservation, the Benzie Conservation District—one of the Water Festival’s main sponsors—held a rain garden workshop that followed Strassberg’s greywater workshop. The BCD’s Carol Navarro began with a brief introduction to rain gardens, which are a way to remediate the runoff from roofs and parking lots that would typically end up in storm sewers.
A rain garden consists of long-rooted native plants that are grown in the lowest point of a yard, with surface water runoff directed towards that low point.
“Rain gardens slow water down,” said Carolyn Thayer—a landscape designer and owner of Designs in Bloom, and the president of Plant It Wild—who last year designed the rain gardens for the new LEED-certified Gateway Housing Project development on Forest Avenue in Frankfort. Thayer gave an overview of the project, which she designed to capture all of the runoff from the housing development’s roofs.
More than 50 community members were in attendance—many coming straight from Grow Benzie’s hoop house workshop, taking place the same day, just up the road in Benzonia—to learn the basics of rain garden design and implementation.
In the mid-afternoon, the Water Festival switched venues, back to the Garden Theater.
Cyndi Roper—the state director of Clean Water Action—was the first speaker at the Garden, having traveled up from Lansing. Roper has played a leadership role in numerous successful water policy, environmental health, and waste issues in Michigan since 1995, and she has served on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council. She came highly recommended to the BCWC by Benzie County’s own water warrior, attorney Jim Olson.
Following Roper, Hans VanSumeren, the director of NMC’s new Water Studies Institute—the first program in the nation to award an Associate’s Degree in water studies—and Tom Kelly, executive director of the Inland Seas Education Association and captain of the Schoolship, spearheaded a discussion on water-related education in the Great Lakes region.
Kelly and the Schoolship have hosted nearly 100,000 elementary, middle school, and high school students in the 20 years since the founding of Inland Seas. Since the WRI program began in September of 2010, VanSumeren has 20 college students—ranging in age from 17 to 54—enrolled in water-related studies.
Both men gave examples of the hands-on learning experiences that each program provides, with coursework that includes studying invasive species, monitoring pollution and climate data, and examining environmental consequences of removing three old dams on the Boardman River.
During both Roper’s lecture and the water education panel, festival goers were invited to step outside for a bite to eat, as the Benzie SEEDS program offered fresh, homemade pizza right outside the Garden’s doors.
A short intermission allowed the crowd to nearly triple, as more than 130 people, including our community’s tiniest tots and most age-wizened elders, piled in to see the night’s closing act.
Northern Michigan’s favorite dynamic duo, Seth Bernard and “Daisy” May Erlewine— the founding father and mother of the folk music explosion that has swept Northern Michigan over the past decade—are local singers, songwriters, and harmonizing musicians with a lot of soul. The pair took the stage with friend and fellow musician, drummer Mike Shimmin.
“From what I understand, they say the Promised Land is on the banks of the River Jordan,” Erlewine sang the opening lyrics to the concert, resonating with Bernard’s guitar.
Passionate about their community and the natural world we’re all connected to, the couple has been an intricate part of each Water Festival that has taken place in Michigan—from the first one at the Straits of Mackinaw City back in 2006 to Benzie County’s own, five years later, this past weekend.
Bernard and Erlewine, whose message of positive change and collaboration was infectious, played two sets, each chock full of the pair’s water-related songs from “Big Momma Brown,” a song about fishing, to “Wash Over Me,” a haunting a capella number, to finish by dancing up the aisles, guitars in hand, singing, “I’m going to join my local watershed council…down by the riverside…and I ain’t gonna study war no more.”
By the end of the day, the Benzie Community Water Council had more than 75 people sign up to become a watershed council member, and a number of people were wearing buttons declaring, “I signed the Water Pledge,” a personal promise to use less water—including the musicians, who encouraged the audience to pass on to others the water facts that M.C. Stoltz had been impressing upon the masses all day.
“It takes 1,500 gallons of water to grow enough cotton for just one pair of jeans,” Stoltz had said. “And a quarter of a gallon of gas to drive just one mile using petroleum-based fuels…more than 450 gallons to drive one mile using soy bean-based biofuel.”
The Cabbage Shed hosted an after-glow party, featuring one of Bernard and Erlewine’s many side projects, Airborne or Aquatic, which incorporated three additional musicians projecting funky blues from their guitars.
Also well-attended were Sunday morning’s water-related church service with Pastor Rick at Frankfort’s Trinity Lutheran Church and Sunday afternoon’s fundraiser for the Friends of the Benzie Bus at the Cabbage Shed, in which Benzie County’s own Song of the Lakes performed a benefit concert.
Song of the Lakes—who have been pleasing crowds with sea-faring tunes, Irish jigs, sultry Brazilian melodies, and bittersweet ballads since the early 1980s—continue to be one of Northern Michigan’s most sought-after musical groups, and the BCWC was honored that they chose to partner with us and close out the first annual Benzie County Water Festival.
Stay tuned for more events, as 100 percent of the proceeds from last weekend’s festival are being invested in future water-related community events. The BCWC hopes to have a lasting and sustainable presence in Northern Michigan. Go to www.water-festival.org for promoted events happening every month in Benzie County.
Aubrey Ann Parker is a northern Michigan native and graduate of both Kalamazoo College and the University of Michigan. She is an editor, reporter, and data analyst for Circle of Blue, a Traverse City-based organization reporting the global freshwater crisis.
Water lovers will hold the first annual Benzie County Water Festival in nearby Frankfort on Saturday, March 19. This community water celebration is designed to engage folks in the stewardship of the Great Lakes, the global freshwater crisis and the cultivation of a vibrant and sustainable local culture. A family-oriented, community-centered program will feature Michigan musicians, speeches from water luminaries, interactive multimedia projects and presentations, artisan foods and beverages, workshops, visual art, theater and dance, children’s activities, an ice fishing contest, as well as connections to campaigns and projects protecting our water locally and/or addressing global water challenges.
The Benzie County Water Festival is co-sponsored by the Benzie Conservation District and Absolute Michigan. For more information, check out the Benzie Water Festival Facebook and contact Sarah Louisignau by calling (231) 871-1075 or by e-mail.
The first Michigan Water Festival was held on the Straits in Mackinaw City in August of 2006 and attracted 500 people from all over the state. The Water Festival moves around Michigan every year, bringing the message of the vitality of Michigan’s water all around the state. Learn more at water-festival.org and in the videos below!
A newly elected state representative who says he doesn’t believe in man-made climate change and supports building a nuclear power plant in northern Michigan is standing by his recent claims about wind power, despite fact checking that indicates most of his assertions were incorrect.
State Representative Ray Franz spoke in January to approximately 300 people at the Garden Theater, in Frankfort, who were seeking information about Duke Energy’s proposal to erect 112 utility-scale wind turbines in Benzie and Manistee Counties. The audience had just watched the anti-windpower polemic, Windfall.
Representative Franz told the crowd he believes anecdotal evidence that turbines dramatically decrease property values, that wind is not price-competitive with coal power and eliminates jobs, and that subsidizing wind power in Europe has failed.
But the Great Lakes Bulletin News Service found multiple, highly researched studies and reports contradicting Mr. Franz’s assertions. In a subsequent interview with GLBNS, however, Mr. Franz stood by his original comments, discounted manmade climate change, and endorsed building a nuclear power plant along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.
“I absolutely agree with clean energy, but mine is different than yours,” Rep. Franz said. “I support nuclear power. I think it is the ultimate clean energy. That is the ultimate future energy source of Michigan.”
Wind Farms and Property Values
Speaking to the crowd at the theater, Representative Franz warned that a major wind farm could harm local property values.
“That is going to have the most dramatic and immediate impact that I can tell,” Mr. Franz said. “In doing some studies and talking to various realtors, I understand that it’s anecdotal, but almost to a person they claim that property values some estimate close to a 40 percent decline.”
GLBNS found several large-scale studies contradicting Mr. Franz. The studies indicate wind power has little impact on property values and that any effect is usually positive.
The most recent study, released last year by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, analyzed 7,500 home sales within 10 miles of 24 wind facilities in nine states.
Researchers visited all homes to collect on-site information, including whether turbines were visible from the home. They analyzed home sales between 1996 and 2007, starting before each project announcement and ending well after turbine operation began.
“Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes,” the report said. “No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back—no evidence of widespread impacts.”
Even for homes located within a mile of a wind project, the researchers found no persuasive evidence of consistent property value impact.The full report is here.
A 2003 federally funded study by the Renewable Energy Policy Project looked at wind power’s effect on home values within five miles of nine projects in seven states before, during, and after installation. It reached the same conclusion.
“We found that for the great majority of projects the property values actually rose more quickly in the view shed than they did in the comparable community [without a wind farm]. Moreover, values increased faster in the view shed after the projects came on-line than they did before [the project was built]. Finally, after projects came on-line, values increased faster in the view shed than they did in the comparable community.”
In his interview, however, Mr. Franz produced individual reports claiming wind turbines harm property values. They included a Watertown Daily Times news article, a letter from an individual, a blog posted by an upstate New York realtor, and several comments, letters, and summaries by realtors or appraisers on an anti-wind Web site.
Yet Representative Franz indicated that property rights override other considerations.
“My position on wind turbines is this is a private property issue and as long as it meets local zoning, private property trumps just about anything else,” Mr. Franz said.
Clean Energy’s Cost and Jobs
State Representative Franz also said wind power is too expensive, soaks up too many tax dollars, and kills jobs.
“What happens is you have significant subsidies that cost tax dollars that drive down the economy and also drives up the cost of electricity,” Mr. Franz said. “You talk to Wolverine, Consumers, DTE…it’s almost double what it costs to generate regular electricity. So you combine the increased cost of electricity with the taxes to support the subsidies, the overall impact on the economy is so negative that it actually costs jobs for every job created.”
Wind is now viewed as cost competitive with new coal- and natural gas-fired power plants in many wind-rich situations.
For example, the State of Michigan recently contradicted Mr. Franz’s assertions. A state report found that the contracted price of utility-scale wind power recently installed in Michigan was cheaper than the contracted price of power from new coal plants in other states.
Consumers Energy, the report added, cut its original, $78 million estimate for meeting its clean-energy mandate to $23 million.
John Sarver, formerly of the State of Michigan’s energy office, told GLBNS it’s important to make fair comparisons between clean and fossil energy.
“Well, [wind looks] too expensive when people go out and compare old, existing power plants to new, commercial wind farms,” Mr. Sarver just before the state released its report. “But any new power source is going to be more expensive [than any old one].”
Reuters reports that large-scale wind-turbine generation costs are now as low as 6 to 8 cents a kilowatt-hour in some windy places, while that number is 3 to 7 cents for “old” natural gas and coal power.
And clean energy of any sort—including solar power, the priciest option—is the clear winner, proponents say, when considering all costs of energy production, not just the price to consumers, Mr. Ellis said. Pointing to environmental and health costs, he asked,
What are the real costs of blowing up mountaintops to get at coal seams, which buries valleys and streams with rubble?
“Unless you find a way to consider those costs, it’s sort of nonsense to say this is cheaper than another,” Mr. Ellis said.
Mr. Sarver said wind power is important to Michigan’s energy and economic future.
“It’s a clean power source and it’s a local Michigan resource,” Mr. Sarver said of wind. “Having that diversified resource base is really smart, kind of like having a diversified stock portfolio. It’s worth something to know what your costs will be 15 or 20 years down the road (for wind) while it’s safe to assume the cost of fossil fuels are going up significantly.”
Mr. Franz’ claim that renewable energy eliminates jobs is also off the mark. Examples abound in Michigan, which is now the nation’s fourth-largest center for solar power manufacturing. Crain’s Detroit Business cites a report by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation that identifies 25 companies in Michigan as parts manufacturers for wind farms and another 900 as providers of design, engineering, machining, automation, or assembly services.
Mr. Franz said he relied on a study from King Juan Carlos University, in Madrid, for his claim that clean-energy subsidies hurt the economy and eliminate jobs. But an online report from Greenpeace USA points out that the study’s methodology has been widely dismissed—by, among others, the Spanish government, The Wall Street Journal, and, most recently, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which said that the report’s author’s main conclusions simply “were not supported by their work.”
‘European Wind Subsidies’
Representative Franz also said wind projects in Europe are highly subsidized, and that cutting off those subsidies effectively halts windpower development.
“We’ve seen the response of the stop[ping] of subsidies in Denmark and Spain [for renewables], most notably Denmark,” he said. “They’ve quit. The development of renewable energy has almost come to a complete halt. Same way in Denmark. Denmark quit a couple of years ago subsidizing their wind farm…They’ve quit subsidizing and any further developments in Denmark have come to a screeching halt.”
The European “subsidies” Mr. Franz referred to are more properly called “feed-in tariffs,” or FITs.
FITs, which triggered rapid growth of solar and wind power in Europe, are rates utilities pay to private entrepreneurs who feed their own solar or wind power into the grid. Well-designed FITs avoid government subsidies and investments; instead, they employ private capital and the profit incentive to encourage clean-energy development.
Recently, there have been significant cuts to—or outright elimination of—some FITs in some countries, including, as Mr. Franz said, Denmark and Spain. But FIT advocates say that’s for two reasons they find encouraging.
First, governments regularly lower FIT rates for new projects in order to spur price competition and allow consumers to benefit from wind and solar technology’s steadily falling costs.
Second, so many entrepreneurs are pursing FIT opportunities that they are overwhelming utilities’ ability to keep up. Germany, Spain, and France added unscheduled cuts to their FIT rates last year “to slow a torrent of projects by developers and speculators,” according to Bloomberg News, which, like Mr. Franz, refers to FITs as “subsidies.”
Tony Ellis, a senior research fellow at the University of Massachusetts’ Wind Energy Center, confirmed that European FITs are working well.
“It is effective in the sense they got a very fast build out,” Mr. Ellis said.
For example, according to an Environmental and Energy Study Institute brief, Germany’s pioneering FITs policy, established in 1991, took the country from zero to 22,000 MW of windpower capacity—in peak power the equal of 22 very large coal plants—in 16 years.
“With the help of this policy,” the EESI brief states, “Germany was able to meet its 2010 target of 12.5 percent renewable electricity in 2007, while creating 249,000 jobs in the country’s renewable energy sector. FITs are also a major reason why Germany has the world’s largest photovoltaic solar market.”
The brief also indicates that Denmark’s wind energy production grew from 500 megawatts in 2003, just before FITs began there, to 3,000 MW in 2005, when they ended—a 600-percent increase in 12 years. Denmark now obtains 21 percent of its electricity from wind turbines; individuals or cooperatives own 83 percent of wind capacity.
The brief added that the policy created 21,000 manufacturing jobs in Denmark—whose population is slightly more than half of Michigan’s.
Mr. Ellis explained that Denmark and Spain had good reason to slow down clean energy development.
“Spain and Denmark are pretty much there in terms of how much wind-based electricity they can put into the grid and still keep a stable system,” he said. “It’s largely not a question of costs. It’s a question of [grid] capacity.”
Research by Toby B. Couture, a National Renewable Energy Laboratory economist turned private energy markets analyst, looked closely at claims that Spain’s renewables experience discredits clean energy and feed-in tariffs.
He said Spain, where wind power forms 16 percent of its national energy portfolio, established a solar FITs policy that was fatally flawed because it set tariffs far too high and avoided development caps. That produced a huge solar-energy “bubble” that did require a genuine government subsidy to repair the economic damage.
Spain’s lesson, he said, “is that while policies like feed-in tariffs can fuel a rapid scale-up in renewable energy technologies, they can all too easily exceed policymakers’ expectations if proper adjustment and oversight mechanisms are not in place.”
And Mr. Ellis pointed out that America’s fossil fuel industries have received massive assistance from government programs and tax incentives for many decades.
“Every [American] source of energy is subsidized,” he said. “The subsidies that wind has gotten…were specifically mentioned as being needed to counterbalance what oil and gas get.”
Glenn Puit is a policy specialist for the Michigan Land Use Institute; reach him at glenn (AT) mlui.org. Jim Dulzo is the Institute’s managing editor. Reach him at jimdulzo (AT) mlui.org.
A proposal by the nation’s largest energy company to erect more than 100 utility-scale wind turbines in Benzie and Manistee Counties holds the promise for an economic boost to the rural region, experts say, and will further the state’s efforts to become a leader in the nation’s emerging clean energy sector.
Many residents in the two counties are receiving the proposal, known as the Gail Windpower Project—and its potential economic impact—very enthusiastically.
“We are majorly supportive of this,” said Pam Harris Kaiser, whose family owns property in Arcadia, which is in northern Manistee County, along the Lake Michigan coastline. “Northern Michigan needs this; America needs this. We need clean energy …and we say bring it on. It’s a total win-win.”
Others, however, are raising concerns.
Chuck Beale, a leader of a group called Citizens for Responsible Wind Development, which opposes the project, told about 300 people gathered at the Garden Theater, in Frankfort, earlier this month that he’s urging a cautious approach due to some claims that wind turbines can harm human health. Others worry that the wind turbines will lower property values in the tourism-dependent economy.
“We are not trying to be exclusionary in any way,” said Mr. Beale, who owns a construction company in Frankfort. “I don’t think there is anybody here who doesn’t believe in renewable energy. It has to be done responsibly.”
Duke Energy, a Fortune 500 company based in Charlotte, N.C, is proposing the wind project. The utility has regular operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. It just announced a merger with Progress Energy, making it the largest regulated utility in the country.
When the wind blows, Duke’s Gail Windpower Project would generate 200 megawatts of power—the output of a small coal plant—without coal-burning’s polluting, climate-changing emissions. The 485-ft. windmills would be placed in various locations within a 12,000 to 16,000 acre footprint largely consisting of orchards and farmland.
The company estimates that building the wind farm would create 150 construction jobs, while operating and maintaining it would produce about 25 permanent, full-time positions. It would, Duke says, represent a $360 million investment that would generate about $1.6 million a year in additional property taxes within each county.
Duke representatives say that area residents have been largely enthusiastic. The Gail Windpower Project Expo, a day-long open house at Benzie Central High School’s gymnasium, attracted close to 400 people, according to one company spokesman. Duke has already reached tentative wind royalty lease agreements with more than 100 landowners, representing about 10,000 acres.
Because wind royalty leases are private contracts, Duke does not disclosed how much it will pay landowners to allow wind turbines on their property. However, estimates by people who have seen leases signed by some local landowners indicate that they could earn between $12,000 and $15,000 per year, per turbine located on their property.
Duke also indicates that a “pooling” arrangement would provide income to others living within the project’s borders who, for various reasons—such as not enough wind or not enough space for the big machines on their property—cannot have windmills on their land.
The company proposes a minimum 1,000-ft. setback from residences; but the two local groups opposing the project insist that setbacks of 1.25 miles are necessary—a zoning regulation that would likely make the project very difficult if not impossible to build.
One farmer who has signed a lease with Duke, thereby agreeing to permit a turbine on his property to harvest wind power, is Jim March, of Arcadia Township, in Manistee County. Mr. March, who is the fourth generation of his family to operate the 263-acre beef-cattle farm, said it’s too early to know whether, how many, and where turbines would be erected on his property.
However, he said, if the project does come to fruition, the revenue will help him and his wife keep the farm in operation so their children can take it over in the coming decades.
“It would definitely pay the taxes and make some badly needed repairs that farm buildings are going without,” said Mr. March. He added that he supports a clean approach to energy generation.
“That’s one of the things discussed around the dining room table from the very beginning,” he said. “On a nice clear day, we are hoping our grandchildren’s children will be breathing…good air…because of these wind turbines being put up.”
Others, however, say they are very concerned about the proposal. The Citizens for Responsible Wind Development, along with the Arcadia Wind Study Group, sponsored the gathering at the Garden Theatre where Mr. Beale spoke, and showed the strongly anti-wind movie “Windfall.”
The movie presents a largely one-sided view of a proposal to build a wind farm in Meredith, N.Y.
“Windfall” chronicles how the proposal divided the rural community. It claims that wind turbines can make people sick, harm property values, cause fires, make shadows “flicker” across homes in a strobe-like effect, and create other problems.
The movie, which presents no views or facts either supporting or contradicting the claims made by the worried residents it interviews, clearly influenced the opinions of many in attendance, including Beulah resident Alice Mummey. Ms. Mummey says she is sympathetic to environmental causes and that she was involved in the successful campaign to stop a proposed new coal plant in Manistee five years ago.
But she said the movie gave her pause when it comes to building a wind farm in her own county.
“The more I find out, the less enthused I am,” Ms. Mummey said. “Even though I helped fight the coal plant and believe in renewables, the impacts I don’t think have been studied enough, and I’m grateful for a moratorium. We just need to carefully plan.”
Ms. Mummey is referring to temporary moratoriums on processing zoning applications for wind turbine permits recently enacted by Benzie’s Blain and Manistee’s Pleasanton Townships, which faced strong pressure from the two citizen groups. In their arguments to the board, the groups cited many of the objections that “Windfall” raises.
The American Wind Energy Association, meanwhile, calls “Windfall” badly biased, anti-wind propaganda that contains anti-wind groups’ “Greatest Hits of Misinformation” about wind power.
After viewing the movie, this reporter visited the Duke expo to ask company representatives about the claims made in the movie concerning the sounds wind turbines make, their effect on property values, and other effects, such as shadow “flicker.”
Milton Howard is vice president of wind development for Duke. In an extended interview, he promised that the project would be carried out with the utmost concern for local residents and their quality of life, and pointed to the nine wind farms his company has already built in other parts of the country in the past few years.
Both Mr. Howard claims that their projects gain strong community acceptance, particularly once they are operating and people better understand the actual effects of properly designed and sited wind farms.
He also said Duke will work with local townships on zoning issues and that placement of wind turbines would be done in a professional, respectful manner that takes into account and addresses the issues raised in the movie.
“It’s been very positive,” Mr. Howard said of the general reception to his company’s proposal. “A lot of people just want to learn about this and what the facts are.”
Glenn Puit, a veteran investigative journalist, is a policy specialist for the Michigan Land Use Institute. Reach him at glenn(AT)mlui.org. MLUI is planning extensive coverage of the Gail Windpower Proposal, and currently is investigating claims made by its opponents about noise, property values, and other perceived effects of windpower development on local communities.
We survived the strongest storm ever to hit the continental United States!
By Jacob Wheeler
“Hell hath’ no fury like a Great Lakes fall storm” — Weather historian William R. Deedler, on the Great Lakes white hurricane of November 1913.
What to make of the vicious wind storm this week that knocked trees through houses and garages, relieved the forests of their autumn leaves, and sent folks without electricity scurrying to the Leelanau Coffee Roasters and Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor, for wireless Internet and food?
A lesson from Mother Nature that man, if he stands alone, is doomed? (When Glen Arbor’s power returned Tuesday evening, the town opened doors to its neighbors in Empire, which remained in the dark for another 24 hours.) Foreshadowing of another storm on Tuesday, when Americans vote in the midterm elections and — if the mainstream media has it right — will rush the kitchen, fire the chefs, dump out the giant vat of slow-cooking soup, and start over again? Or was this storm just a natural, if noisy, step in the transition from autumn to winter?
Better find your hats and gloves, folks. The Old Man may arrive early this year.
The windstorm that hit Leelanau County on Tuesday, Oct. 26, rivaled the pressure of tropical storms, according to Dave Lawrence, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Gaylord. The storm’s intensity rivaled, and may have surpassed, the winds that doomed the famed Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 in Lake Superior. In fact, “Chiclone of 2010” (named for the beating it dealt the Windy City) boasted the lowest atmospheric pressure readings ever measured anywhere in the continental United States, according to Weather Underground — making the storm more intense than the Great Blizzard of 1978, the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940, the November storm of 1998, the White Hurricane of 1913 which inspired Deedler’s above quote, and the Edmund Fitzgerald storm of 1975.
And through it all, Keenan May, Lindsay Simmons, and Elias Ridley went surfing at Sleeping Bear Point!
“I’ve been surfing all week,” bragged Ridley, the buff Ann Arbor native who now calls Empire home. “So while everyone I know is complaining about the cold, awful weather, I’ve been stoked out of my head … People who see us going out either wish us luck and to be safe, or exclaim that ‘I’m crazy’ … probably both, on one level or another.”
Does extreme weather turn people mad? Perhaps it’s worth considering author Joan Didion’s words about the fabled Santa Ana wind off the Pacific Ocean every fall that brings wildfires to Southern California and makes people in Los Angeles do crazy things. In Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Didion called this “the season of suicide and divorce and prickly dread, wherever the wind blows.” She tells how “the Indians would throw themselves into the sea when the wind blew.” On nights of a Santa Ana wind, Didion writes, “every booze party ends in a fight” and “meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks.”
We Midwesterners may not be driven to such impulses, but the storm proved murderous for the wildlife. A dead seagull and a dead duck were seen lying near each other on the beach in Leland, apparently after nosediving into the sand. Meanwhile, the Record-Eagle reported that rescue crews in nearby Northport helped a woman who was trapped in her trailer by downed power lines.
Norm Wheeler, English and astronomy teacher at The Leelanau School, knew the storm was coming. Looking out from the school’s Observatory on the beach, Wheeler saw a flat, nervous Sleeping Bear Bay Tuesday morning with the wind picking up out of the south. By the afternoon it was coming from the southwest, and the whole bay had become whitecaps and froth. Mini-waterspouts formed between Glen Arbor and North Manitou Island, even as the sun began to shine. “When the sun shines and there’s that much spray above the water, you get sundogs, or rainbow patches at right angles from sun. I saw a sundog out toward Sleeping Bear Point and a sundog toward North Manitou.” By Tuesday evening the wind was howling and rocking the Observatory.
Both Glen Arbor and Empire lost electricity in the afternoon, and so many people gathered for dinner at Art’s, which has a generator, that there was half-hour wait to be seated. At 6 p.m. on Tuesday the power returned in Glen Arbor, and the Western Avenue Grill opened across the street — a relief to the hungry crowd.
In Frankfort, crowds gathered Tuesday and Wednesday to watch giant wind-whipped waves smash into the lighthouses on the town’s piers. In nearby Elberta, a house reportedly crumbled in two. Benzie County lost power, but Maggie Lonero’s lights stayed on because she has solar power (there must be a lesson there).
Check out this video by Ken Scott of the wind and waves bashing into the Frankfort pier:
In Traverse City, Cheyenne Dutcher was relieved that the Tall Ship Manitou had been moved to its winter dock the day before the storm hit. “She is now crushing the dock, but there’s nothing I can do,” lamented Dutcher, one of the Tall Ship’s captains. “At least she won’t go anywhere.” Trees and branches lay strewn over photographer John Robert Williams’ yard. He estimated he’d need an entire day just to clear the yard. Meanwhile, high school Spanish teacher Andy Baumann sat on his couch, reading a Bill Bryson book, by firelight.
Here in Glen Arbor, a tree busted out webpage designer Molly Melin’s window while she was on the couch reading to her daughter, Ada. Melin can tell the story with varying degrees of drama. Glen Arbor Bed & Breakfast innkeepers Jeff and Katie Rabidoux worried about a big dead tree that stood dangerously close to their home, but the storm miraculously dropped it down safer than any chainsaw could have — parallel to the house and facing the driveway. The Budingers weren’t so lucky. Dick and Gay heard something hit their garage the other night. They went outside and saw two holes in the roof, and an opening in the tree canopy with a view clear to the sky. Over at Glen Lake School, fourth grade teacher Cynthia Hollenbeck’s students were distracted, looking wild-eyed out the window at every gust of wind, she said, “instead of concentrating on my fascinating tricks to learn their times-tables.”
On Tuesday night a fire truck parked at the Narrow’s Deli south of the Glen Lakes indicated that the stretch of M-22 south of Little Glen Lake was closed. A tree had fallen and taken down power lines. An electricity poll near the Manor on Glen Lake was reportedly being replaced as well.
The storm knocked out power at The Leelanau School on Tuesday, and it wasn’t restored until Thursday afternoon. As they may have done in the olden days, the boarding school’s students took buckets of water from the Crystal River to flush their toilets Tuesday night. They used porta-potties Wednesday and Thursday. In the evenings they studied in the dining hall under halogen light bulbs that were hooked up to a generator. Leelanau School President Matt Ralston came to the Leelanau Coffee Roasters — which was swarming with laptop-toters — to email parents of students and let them know to communicate via cellular phone. Ironically, Glen Arbor’s cell tower wasn’t functioning either Tuesday.
Those in Empire without power stayed with friends or family in Glen Arbor whose electricity returned Tuesday evening: Dan and Anne Shoup brought their kids to stay with “Uncle Mike” Buhler, co-owner of the Leelanau Coffee Roasters and co-editor of the Glen Arbor Sun; Colleen Macaddino hosted her daughter Kelly and grandkids. Meanwhile, Erik Peterson borrowed his landlord’s chainsaw early Wednesday morning so that he could remove a tree that had fallen on Echo Valley Road and get to work.
On his drive home from Traverse City late Wednesday night, Norm Wheeler saw 14 Consumers Power bucket trucks driving east on M-72 after restoring power here in the county. They were back on Thursday, parked by the dozen behind Boone Docks in Glen Arbor.
The power returned to Empire at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night. Mimi Wheeler had lost two days of production at Grocers Daughter Chocolate, and she had plenty of orders to fill. So her work day began at 10 p.m. and lasted until 3:30 a.m. Meanwhile, once the storm was over, Norm assessed that the forests had almost completely lost their leaves, except for some oak trees down by the lakeshore. Winter, it seemed, was now imminent.
But every great storm brings a time for reflection. Writer Anne-Marie Oomen lost her father this summer, and this week she heard John’s footsteps in the forest outside of Empire. Here are her words:
“This is the preamble for the storm: On Sunday I woke to find the understory had turned golden, a phenomenon I love more than the big treetop show for both subtlety and metaphor. An understory is often the golden story, don’t you think? The canopy had fallen, and the glow from the ground was dappled with these last bright snips. The low trees were still freckled with light, but close to the earth. It was warm and humid and still that day, a sure sign the weather would change. But Sunday, those leaves were damp, so rather than the crackling chorus, the sounds were muted. I remembered then: these were my father’s favorite autumn days; these days of golden understory when he could walk in the woods without alerting the creatures. In his last years, he rarely hunted but went out anyway into that singular light, to walk and watch and wait in the understory. Perhaps he became part of the understory.
For the next two days, as the storm approached from the Midwest, I heard his footsteps in our woods, the almost sound on wet leaves. Then Tuesday, the bottom dropped out of the barometer, and then the wind drowned out everything but its own sound, and then the power gone and the nights dark with howling. Now even the golden understory is gone. I loved the preamble to the storm, and then the storm itself — for the metaphor of course.”