The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, July 29, 2011

Major Mason County wind farm gets approved

By The Building Tradesman

LUDINGTON –Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest renewable energy provider, received final approval on July 7 from Mason County for the utility’s special land use permit application for its first wind park – the 100-megawatt Lake Winds Energy Park.

The 56 turbines of the Lake Winds Energy Park will produce enough electricity to meet the annual power needs of more than 31,000 residential customers and will be one of the largest wind farms in the state. Consumers said the project will provide about 150 jobs during peak construction, which is expected to start this year. The utility said eight to 12 full-time jobs will be created once the park begins operations, which is expected in 2012.

“We appreciate the hard work and dedication of the Mason County Planning Commission and other county personnel in connection with review and approval of our application, said Jack Hanson, senior vice president of generation and energy supply for Consumers Energy. “While we are still reviewing the terms and conditions of the Planning Commission’s approval, we look forward to building a wind park that benefits Mason County residents, farmers and businesses, and provides economic value and renewable energy to Michigan and our customers,”

The special land use application included detailed site layouts for 56 wind turbines in various locations.  All of the turbine locations received previous approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, Michigan Aeronautic Commission, and the Mason County Airport Zoning Board of Appeals.

The $250 million Lake Winds facility is expected to provide Mason County taxing units with an additional $29 million in property tax revenue over the first 20 years of operation.  Current property tax payments by Consumers Energy to Mason County taxing units are about $6 million per year.

Meanwhile, in Gratiot County west of Saginaw, 133 wind turbines are set to be installed beginning this summer at the new Invenergy wind farm. The turbines will be capable of creating 200 megawatts of electricity and powering 50,000 homes.

Consumers Energy, the state’s largest renewable energy supplier,  has selected the Vestas V100-1.8 MW wind turbine for the Lake Winds project, which is the most efficient turbine for this region’s wind speeds.   The utility previously announced its selection of White Construction, Inc. to build Lake Winds.

Consumers, which provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million customers in the Lower Peninsula, will also continue development in Tuscola County of its 150-megawatt Cross Winds Energy Park, scheduled for operation by late 2014.