Two rural Michigan towns are holding a referendum Tuesday on whether or not to block two of the world’s largest green energy companies from building wind turbines.
The vote could stop the companies DTE Energy and NextEra Energy from building 70 new wind turbines in Huron County. The county already has 550 wind turbines, but residents opposed to more wind turbines hope the referendum will block new turbines.
Anti-wind power activists got about 1,200 signatures to get a measure against turbines on the ballot.
The Ellington and Almer townships have a combined population of less than 6,000. NextEra Energy sued both of them this year after the townships put a year-long moratorium on new wind turbine projects.
Huron County Wind Resistance says the future wind turbines would ruin the county’s rural feel and pose a health risk to residents.
“Tomorrow is our last chance,” Huron County Wind Resistance said in a Facebook post Monday. “Tell DTE and NextEra they are not wanted…. 550 turbines is enough. Vote NO tomorrow. PLEASE! Enough is enough is enough.”
If residents vote against the new turbines, the companies will be forced to move its wind power projects elsewhere.
“We have a lot of people that host sites today and have been vocal about supporting it, but there’s also another piece of the county of residents that don’t support it,” Trevor F. Lauer, President of DTE energy, told The Huron County View. “I tell you, this is a wonderful county to develop wind in, but if it’s not the desire of the people in the county, then that’s not something we’re going to do here.”
NextEra Energy sued both townships after they imposed a year-long moratorium on wind-turbine development, filing suit against Ellington in late March and against Almer in February. NextEra has a history of filing lawsuits in both state and federal court against other small towns.
In January, NextEra sued after officials in Rush County, Indiana, denied a permit for a 22-turbine wind farm the company wants to construct. In October, NextEra filed a lawsuit against officials in Clinton County, Missouri, after they passed a ban on wind turbines. The company also sued the small town of Hinton, Oklahoma, in October after the town called wind turbines “a public nuisance” and prohibited their installation within two miles of its borders.
The National Review estimates this prohibition cost NextEra $18 million per year in federal tax subsidies.
NextEra made a profit of $21.5 billion between 2008 and 2015 but paid zero federal income taxes on it, according to The New York Times. In fact, the company received a net tax credit of $313 million thanks to government subsidies. The company has a total market capitalization of $62.43 billion. It currently operates 110 wind projects across 20 U.S. states.
NextEra claims to be “the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun” on its website.
The company also filed a libel suit against Esther Wrightman, a Canadian anti-wind activist, for calling the company “NexTerror” and “NextError” on her website.
NextEra Energy did not return requests for comment to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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