July 23, 2008

Residents Still Fired Up Over Substation

By Melissa Domsic, The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.

Jul. 23--GREILICKVILLE -- Residents remain charged up over a utility company's efforts to build an electrical substation in Elmwood Township.

Wolverine Power Cooperative is seeking permission from the state to bypass township ordinances and build the facility near the corner of Bugai Road and M-72.

Wolverine and its co-op member Cherryland Electric Cooperative held an informational public meeting on Tuesday as part of the process to gain permission from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

About 80 people attended the meeting, and many spoke against and in favor of the project. Utility officials fielded several questions concerning the substation's proposed location, possible health risks, and visual and noise screening.

"Our biggest concern is we don't need this eyesore," said Jeff Aprill, township planning commission chairman. "We all love our power. The issue is location."

Eric Baker, Wolverine's chief executive officer, stressed that the utility worked for more than a year with township officials.

"We tried to be respectful of the concerns of the community, to design it in such a way that is thoughtful, that minimizes any visual impact to the region, and minimizes any additional transmission construction in the region, and we need to get it done," Baker said. "We hope through this process, or through the township process, that we can begin moving forward this fall with construction so this station can be energized as soon in 2009 as possible."

Wolverine plans to apply in August for a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the MPSC.

Power lines for Cherryland, Traverse City Light & Power and Consumers Energy would be connected to the station. Wolverine and Light & Power plan to share construction costs for the $7 million project. Wolverine agreed to purchase land for the substation from township Trustee Terry Lautner, who also is a Cherryland director and former board chairman for Wolverine.


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