HOLLAND – Once again, the Holland Board of Public Works has come up empty on an effort to establish a wind energy project.
The city-owned utility pulled the plug on a proposed windfarm in Allegan County, after an analysis of wind speeds and other related information led officials to believe the project is not cost-effective. BPW will now pursue purchasing wind power on the open market, Business Services Manager Dan Nally said.
“We’re not turning away from wind. We’re turning in a different direction,” BPW General Manager Dave Koster said.
The utility’s board of directors this week approved dismantling a 200-foot-tall meteorological tower from a site in rural Overisel Township that had been considered a potential wind farm site. It has also let several land lease options with SWMI Wind Energy Development LLC, of Grandville, expire.
The analysis of the Allegan County sites found that the wind project would only have produced 32 percent of its potential capacity, and that the cost of producing the energy would have been about 9 cents per kilowatt hour, as opposed to the 6-7 cents utility officials had hoped for.
The news comes as a disappointment to BPW, which had earlier looked into the possibility of a wind energy project in the Upper Peninsula, as well as a smaller-scale project at Windmill Island Gardens, both of which came up fruitless.
The utility looked at wind conditions at sites in several Allegan townships based on a 2009 Michigan Wind Energy Resource Zone Board study that ranked the county as one of the top four onshore areas in the state with the highest potential for a wind energy project.
“Based on the state study, it looked like a viable project,” Nally said. “But we needed to do our own study so we could get more detailed information.”
BPW spent $678,000 over the past two years on the Allegan County study, including land lease costs, engineering and equipment, Nally said.
Despite the utility’s lack of success in developing its own wind energy project, BPW officials say they are still ahead of the game in terms of complying with a state law that requires the utility to have 10 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2015. BPW currently has 4 percent of its energy from renewable sources, twice the state requirement for this year.
Nally is hopeful the BPW board will have a proposal to consider soon – perhaps as early as next month – on purchasing wind power.