BINGHAM TOWNSHIP – Noble Environmental Power doesn’t plan to get its windpark off the ground any time soon, but when it does, the company plans to erect the entire 32 turbines originally slated to be installed.
“We’re actually hoping to go forward in the spring with the original 32 instead of the seven, and we’re hoping to move forward with the full park and get back on track with our original plans,” said Noble Development Manager Jeanette Hagen. “We’re basically just ironing out all the red tape with the transmission. Otherwise, we’re ready to rock and roll.”
The red tape Hagen’s referring to led to the once up-in-the-air Noble Thumb Windpark officially being grounded for at least a year, as Noble announced in August the construction of the 48 megawatt windpark will be delayed until the next construction season.
Project Development Director Tom Hiester told the Huron Daily Tribune transmission access continued to delay the company’s efforts.
“We’ve simply run out of time for this construction season,” Hiester said in an Aug. 8 statement.
The unresolved issues relate to the interconnection of the project to the transmission system and DTE Energy’s power lines. Hagen said these issues originally were expected to have been resolved before the start of the 2006 construction season. But after several months’ negotiation regarding Noble’s interconnection agreements, she said DTE found it needed an exemption from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) before it would proceed.
“The exemption would be that they wouldn’t fall under federal regulations because right now they’re under state regulations, and they didn’t want to do both,” Hagen said. “They didn’t want the hassle.”
She said DTE filed for the exemption July 28, and both companies are optimistic DTE will receive the necessary FERC approvals, allowing the interconnection issues to be resolved in a manner that is favorable for the Noble Thumb Windpark.
Len Singer, DTE spokesman, said the company has yet to receive a formal waiver on the Noble project from FERC.
“But we’re confident that we’re going to be able to move forward with Noble in the spring,” he said. “We expect that we’ll be able to resolve the regulatory issues that have been involved with this project.”
The windpark faced numerous obstacles this summer, most notably in June when Hiester told the Huron Daily Tribune the project had to be scaled down to only seven wind turbines being installed at the site, just west of Ubly in Bingham Township.
He said the full-scale project – which included the construction of 32 wind turbines – was put on hold because of an ongoing investigation by the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) and International Transmission Co. (ITC).
Now the seven wind turbines earmarked for the project will be stored at the Sandusky Piling Grounds until construction resumes next spring, Hagen said. “The seven turbines are staying there for the winter,” she said. “We’ve already made arrangements to leave them there.”
Hagen said the rest of the 32 turbines will have to be shipped to the area. She said other construction resources and the heavy-lift crane that was idle in the Thumb were relocated in August to New York where Noble needed them to construct more than 200 megawatts of windparks.
Kate Finneren, The Huron Daily Tribune