Which Way the Wind Blows

If you want to know why Michigan continues to fall behind in the pursuit of green energy innovation, go back and read Ken Kolker's excellent investigative report in Sunday's Grand Rapids Press. But here's the short answer: uneducated citizens and idle politicians.

More than 700 wind turbines dot the skyline in Minnesota, according to Kolker's report. Illinois has 96, with some 640 on the drawing board or already under construction. So how many megawatt making wind mills are turning in Michigan, the 14th windiest state in the union? Three. Two in Mackinac City and one in Traverse City.

Not that energy entrepreuneurs aren't trying. There are preliminary plans for 90 wind turbines on Michigan's West Coast and separate plans for 32 turbines on the east side. Together, the two projects could generate enough clean energy to power tens of thousands of homes. They could also relieve Michigan's need to import coal, reduce energy costs, prevent Great Lakes pollution, and bolster the local farm economy.

"I want to be part of something we need in this country: renewable energy," farmer Eugene Kokx told the Grand Rapids Press. "Why not step and do your share. I want to be part of something new."

But the naysayers argue the machines will kill birds, make noise, and erode property values. The experience in states like Illinois, Texas, and California doesn't back the misinformation. Still, they've fought the energy projects tirelessly in town halls around the state.

And state lawmakers - despite plenty of rhetoric about energy independence, climate change, and going green - have yet to take any real action and enact a modern energy policy that paves the way for wind, solar, and other alternatives.

Michigan Democrats reportedly will introduce today a proposal to boost green power. It isn't the first plan. And it probably won't be the last.