CONWAY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLNS) – A temporary weather station set up by DTE has people living nearby worried about what the land might used for in the future.
Conway Township officials said the company does not have any permit for the equipment, but DTE said they have not violated any restrictions.
The township is one of several mid-Michigan communities that have been at the center of potential sites new solar power plants by a number of energy companies.
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Outside of Fowlerville, a metal pole with solar panels and other instruments conspicuously stands out among the farmland.
DTE said it’s a temporary weather station set up to collect weather conditions, effects of precipitation, sunlight and wind.
But its placement has drawn concern from township leaders like Conway Township Supervisor Bill Grubb.
He said such equipment requires a special permit. Grubb and Dana Sherwood, the property’s owner, confirmed that two notices have been sent out in the last two months, with the second notice carrying a fine of $50.
In a statement from DTE, a spokesperson said they don’t need a permit.
The landowner granted DTE permission to place a temporary weather station on their property. The small set of solar panels measures local weather conditions including the effects of precipitation, sunlight and wind. It is our understanding that this type of equipment does not violate local zoning nor does it require a special permit.”Cindy Hecht, spokesperson, DTE Energy
Sherwood said he leased the land out to the company in 2021. He said the study has been going on for 5 months. In regards to the permit dispute, he said he’s a middleman.
“Everything is being discussed between DTE and the township, they aren’t talking to me about it yet, no,” Sherwood said. “It’s something they always put up a few months before they even decided if they want to use this property or not.”
Conway Township has been the center of fiery debates in recent months as several energy companies including Ranger Power have leased land in the area with plans for solar power plants.
Signs around town show opposition against the idea.
While many neighbors near Sherwood’s property declined to speak on camera, they say they are worried about property value and losing the area’s farmland.
Sherwood said he understands concerns, but he said he sees the direction the energy industry is heading.
“It’s going to be turning into a way of life eventually. Whether it’s here or somewhere else, it is on its way and I’m looking at future generations,” Sherwood said.
DTE Energy officials said collecting weather data has been done around the state and is the first step to figuring out if a site might work for a renewable energy project.