Wind power may be the next thing in Lenawee County’s alternative energy industry.
An agriculture advisory committee that was involved in starting an ethanol plant near Blissfield and bringing a biodiesel plant to Adrian is taking a serious look at a wind turbine project to generate electricity in Lenawee County.
A two-hour presentation on the nuts and bolts of wind power was given to the committee last week.
“They were certainly interested in learning more about it,” said county administrator Bill Bacon. This appears to be another means for Lenawee County to be in the forefront of developing energy alternatives, he said.
There is an interest in investigating the possibilities and spending money to test sites in the county for wind turbine feasibility, said committee Much more has to be learned about what could be done with power generated by turbines in the county, he said, as well as financing and site selection.
“I think it’s going to be a good winter project,” Gould said.
The cost of setting up a tower to record wind velocities and other factors is at least $10,000. The cost can go as high as $20,000 or $25,000 if the evaluation includes such things as studying bat populations that might be affected by a turbine, said John Wolar of Alternate Energy Solutions Inc., who gave a presentation to the agriculture committee.
Weather data on Lenawee County indicates a wind turbine project here could be feasible, Wolar said.
“There is some wind here. The question is how much,” he said. There are now four wind turbines near the city of Bowling Green, Ohio, he noted, which has similar geography.
Flat, open land at the southern border of the county and high ground in the northwest area of the county look most promising for wind turbines, he said.
“I would probably look at one or two spots where you might think it’s possible to put them,” Wolar said.
Gould said he has already gotten six offers of property for a wind farm project.
He said he expects a test tower will be put up to evaluate local wind potential.
“I think the ag committee is pretty serious about going that far,” Gould said. But the committee is far from being ready to decide where to look, he said.
How to organize a project if a wind study is positive is also up in the air, he said.
The agriculture committee is probably not ready to repeat the kind of effort it took to launch the Great Lakes Ethanol company that undertook the corn processing plant now being built near Blissfield, he said. A wind power project could be done as a county-government venture, he said, or through agreements with private business or other utility firms or cooperatives. Power could be sold to the major utilities, he said, or marketed to large users.
Bacon said there are also possibilities for bringing manufacturing and support services to Lenawee County for the worldwide market in wind generation.
Demand has grown so much for wind turbine generators and other equipment that it now takes 18 months for an order to be delivered, Wolar said.
“I think it’s promising technology,” Bacon said. Wind power is not likely to fill a widening gap between demand and production of electricity in Michigan and elsewhere, he said, but it can be part of the solution along with other energy sources.
It should be looked at, Bacon said, “if there’s a way the county can benefit from it and provide some jobs and industry.”
By Dennis Pelham
Daily Telegram Staff Writer
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