By Paul Garrod
On Wednesday, April 5, Consumers Energy posted a message on social media from Derek Nofz, Van Buren County Community Affairs Manager, stating that the plans to build a 20-mile-long high voltage line in Van Buren County will be put on pause. It reads as follows:
“I am writing to provide you with the most current update on our proposed high voltage project in Van Buren County. We believe it is important to be transparent and share new developments with you as we work through this process. We will be immediately pausing all field activities associated with the proposed route. We will continue to evaluate and explore routes to deliver power to the Lawrence area. Our mission remains to find a prudent route that is safe with minimalized environmental and aesthetic impacts. We will also be renewing conversations with AEP to evaluate the possibility of partnering with them to serve the community.
“We would like to foster a better relationship with you, our customers and neighbors, and hope that you know we are listening to your concerns. Communication with you will be prioritized as we continue to gather more information and determine our next steps.”
A Facebook group, “Save our Trees: Stop the Power Lines,” was informed by its attorney that it had an email from Consumers stating, “At this time, it is unclear what the ultimate solution will be for providing the Lawrence area with additional power to meet the current and projected demands. Accordingly, it is unclear whether the ultimate solution for meeting the Lawrence area power demands will involve the real estate your clients own.” Julia Richardson, Facebook group member in a social media post said, “This is not over. We are not on pause.”
Republican Senate Leader Aric Nesbitt and Republican Energy, Communications, and Technology Leader Pauline Wendzel recently issued the following statement on the Consumers Energy project:
“We join our Van Buren County neighbors in their opposition to the Consumers Energy Crandall Transmission Line Project in its current form. Our offices have received multitudes of concerns from members of the community regarding how the project would affect their property and the surrounding area.
“We urge Consumers Energy to seriously consider a less intrusive route for this project and we hope that they will cooperate with the community to find a solution that respects the rights of property owners and those potentially affected by this project.
“It is vital to prioritize the concerns of community members and carefully consider the potential impact of any large-scale projects on the surrounding area. We are committed to working with Consumers Energy, their customers, and the community to find a solution that benefits all parties involved while respecting private property rights and the environment.”
The Facebook group plans to attend its second meeting with the Michigan Public Service Commission on Thursday, April 13, in Lansing.
On April 22, Earth Day, at 1 p.m., the Facebook group plans to protest the destruction of thousands of trees with a protest at Consumers Energy, Kalamazoo.