New powerlines could be built on a western Midland County wetland
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is taking public comment on a plan to build electric power lines in a wetland in Midland County.
Environmental and wildlife activists have spoken out against the proposed permit. One of their primary concerns from the group is the potential of the lines causing collisions with birds and, in some cases, killing them.
Additionally, the Wildlife Recovery Association's attorney, Jeff Jocks, argued during a recent public hearing that altering the landscape of the wetland will cause harm to species and ecosystem.
The area is currently home to several species, including blanding's turtles, eagles, and red shouldered hawks.
Jocks added during the hearing that said the Michigan Electric Transmission Company (METC) knows the power lines will result in more bird collisions and have not chosen an alternative path for the power lines.
"METCs proposed transmission line will be placed perpendicular to the regular flight paths of the birds that use this wetland complex. And these birds regularly travel between both sides of the complex," said Jocks during a public hearing. "METC knows that its transmission lines will result in collisions and electrocutions of birds in this wetland complex."
METC waived chose not to make a presentation on the project or offer a comment on the project during the recent state hearing, organized by Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
However, in an email to WCMU, a spokesperson said the lines are “needed to interconnect the Isabella Wind Park, the largest windfarm in Michigan, to maximize renewable energy distributed to customers.”
The company also said it has conducted a thorough analysis of alternative routes and has concluded the proposed route is environmentally friendly. METC emphasized it has taken the concerns of the Wildlife Recovery Association seriously and said they plan to install the line with bird diverters to reduce collisions with the lines.