A small Associated Press brief on Monday, reporting that a wind energy company is looking at Gratiot or Ionia as the spot to move its wind turbines, made a few folks in Gratiot sit up and take notice.
Besides Invenergy’s wind farm already up and two more in the planning stages, nobody in Gratiot knew about the possibility of this fourth, new company moving in.
AP reported that Exelon Wind had been planning on building a wind farm in Lenawee County. But people there apparently don’t want it. Even so, the company needs to build the turbines this year.
Exelon already has a contract with Consumers Energy to supply power but “The utility says the planned project in Riga, Palmyra and Ogden townships ran into significant opposition from area residents,” the AP story said.
Consumers Energy spokesman Jeff Holyfield said that the utility does indeed have a contract with Exelon. Exelon asked for more time to move to another location, either Ionia or Gratiot,.
“We agreed to give them flexibility,” Holyfield said.
Should a move from Lenawee to either Gratiot or Ionia county happen, it would have to be approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Exelon spokesman Bob Judge said it’s expected that the MPSC will make a decision at the end of the month.
“We’re in the discussion process to acquire a project,” Judge said. “Gratiot is a good community”
Beyond saying that Gratiot was one of two locations in consideration, he said he could not elaborate further.
Greater Gratiot Development President Don Schurr said he read the news item Monday and it was the first he heard of it.
“Nobody has contacted me,” he said.
But he noted Gratiot’s record, especially when it comes to wind farms.
He pointed to the county’s collaboration, its agreement on ordinances and rules, and how it’s designed to “make it easy” for those kind of enterprises.
For his part, Gratiot County Commission Chair Jeff Anderson said Gratiot, “has shown how receptive it can be for new businesses and more jobs. We know how to work as a team. Even if there is no direct benefit to the one part of the county, if it’s good for one part, it’s good for Gratiot.”
According to the AP, Excelon hasn’t given up on Lenawee, but it has to move on the project.
Exelon Corp. is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with more than $18 billion in annual revenues.
It distributes electricity to about 5.4 million customers in northern Illinois and southeaster Pennsylvanian and natural gas to the Philadelphia area.