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Wolverine exploring wind farm possibility

Wolverine Power has been looking at building a coal-burning power plant near Rogers City for some time. But last week the company took the first steps toward another venture in the same area.

On Aug. 31, the company erected a tower in the wilderness near the ON Minerals plant that will be used to collect wind velocity and direction data for the next 18 months. If the results of the data are favorable, the company will look at building a wind farm on the site, said Ken Bradstreet, director of community and public affairs.

A wind farm typically consists of a group of high-tech windmills that are used to generate electricity. They are part of Wolverine’s search for renewable energy sources, Bradstreet said.

“We’re investing quite a bit in becoming knowledgable and to be in a position to provide our customers with renewable energy,” he said.

Renewable energy is becoming more important in the industry, Bradstreet said. Wolverine even has customers who are requesting it.

The tower is on a hill about four miles from the Quarry View site just south of Rogers City. It is on Adams Point near Lake Huron, which makes the site optimal for a wind farm, Bradstreet said.

The site is on property owned by ON Minerals. Michael Miclette, vice president and general manager for ON’s Great Lakes Region, said Wolverine has leased about 15 acres for testing.

Wolverine is doing the bulk of the work and development for both the wind farm and the coal plant, Miclette said. But ON Minerals is trying to make sure the power company has everything it needs.

“We’re just trying to make sure we’re not in the way … It’ll be a mutually beneficial project,” Miclette said.

Inspectors have been analyzing the site for about a year, Bradstreet said. Wolverine plans to build the coal plant inside ON’s Calcite quarry. That project is still moving forward, with Wolverine planning to submit an application for an air quality permit this fall.

“That’s the major permit that you need to build a power plant,” Bradstreet said.

But now the company is interested in exploring the area’s renewable energy possibilities. They have both advantages and disadvantages, Bradstreet said.

“(Renewable energy) tends to be more expensive than other kinds of power, but it has the advantage of being very clean,” he said.

The project is similar to another wind farm Wolverine is involved with in Bay County. That farm is being built by the John Deere company but the power it generates will be purchased by Wolverine, Bradstreet said.

By Phil Wenzel

The Alpena News

8 September 2007