The Costs and Benefits of Wind Energy: Competing Groups Hold Forums

CapCon reporter kicked out of pro-wind energy forum

After initially allowing Michigan Capitol Confidential to sit in and listen to its Michigan Wind Energy Forum in Lansing on Tuesday, the American Wind Energy Association changed its mind.

Within five minutes, an association official grabbed Michigan Capitol Confidential’s camera and asked its reporter, Anne Schieber, to leave. Schieber was stationed in the back of the room, observing and recording for a potential news story.

The association said Michigan Capitol Confidential was not credentialed. Peter Kelly, the association's vice president for public affairs, was asked where the credentialing process had been disclosed or what Michigan Capitol Confidential would have to do to be approved. He replied that Michigan Capitol Confidential reporters were not real journalists and could not be credentialed.

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The AWEA is a trade association whose members include manufacturers of industrial wind turbines and related systems.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is a member of the Michigan Press Association and its work has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists. Schieber spent 30 years in broadcast journalism. She was a reporter and anchor for WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids from 1998 to 2011, and has worked for stations in four other cities as well. In 2003, she was honored as “Journalist of the Year” by the Michigan Small Business Administration.

That same day on another floor in the same meeting venue, wind energy opponents held their own informational forum. The policy of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition was to turn no one away.

“We welcome media of all types," said Kevon Martis, the organizer of the event. "We welcome any facet of the environmental movement. We’d be pleased if Michael Moore would stop in and chat with us because we’re here for a dialogue. We know the facts. We know the science and we’re here to have a chat."

It was the grassroots coalition's first summit on energy.The gathering attracted a number of energy experts and analysts. These included: Steven Transeth, a former member of the Michigan Public Service Commission; State Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama; Valerie Brader, Gov. Rick Snyder's energy adviser; Tom Stacy, an independent energy analyst; and Cal Peters, a retired analyst from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Mason County homeowner Cary Shindecker also spoke. Shindecker sued CMS Energy over the noise and vibration coming from the company's wind turbines near his home. He has been trying to sell his house for four years.

Michigan Capitol Confidential called David Ward, the deputy director of strategic communications at the American Wind Energy Association, to give the group another opportunity to comment. Shortly after the conversation began, the line went dead. Follow up calls went to voice mail.

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