Muskegon City Council Joins GVSU On Wind Power Research

Andrew Trzaska | February 9, 2011

Muskegon County may not be full of windmills yet, but Grand Valley State University and the City of Muskegon may soon be involved in new, deeper offshore wind research.

The Muskegon City Commission voted unanimously at their work session Monday to help Grand Valley State University’s MAREC institute apply for federal and state grants to acquire an offshore research buoy.

Located on the Muskegon Lake shore, Grand Valley’s MAREC, or Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, needed a co-applicant with Lake Michigan shoreline frontage to be considered for the grants.

The two major shoreline presences in the county are the City of Muskegon on the south side of the Muskegon Lake channel, and the Muskegon County with the state park on the north side of the channel.

T. Arnold “Arn” Boezaart, Director of MAREC, appeared at Monday’s meeting and cited the city’s already-positive relationship with the center’s efforts as a reason for asking the city to join them in their application process.

“This is more than just borrowing a name.”

If the federal and state grants are secured, the buoy will cost the city nothing.  Yet, it will provide information on whether winds off the coast in Lake Michigan could be harnessed for energy year-round.

However, it will take a while because to allow this to happen, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard must approve it first.

The offshore buoy in question would be a approx 18 ft long, 5 ft wide platform shaped like boat to whether the elements. It will feature laser light measurement devices instead of simple traditional spinning-cup-style wind meters.

If approved, this study will be done in partnership with the University of Michigan, and will follow up on work done by the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council (GLOW), a committee appointed by then Governor Granholm in 2009.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst