ADRIAN, Mich. – More than $22,000 in wind-metering equipment has been ordered and meetings begun with land owners in the Blissfield area, where property may be leased for a wind farm project being pursued by newly formed Great Lakes Wind LLC.
Larry Gould, Great Lakes Wind chairman, said the goal is a community project to be started with local investors. But he said a large-scale project is more feasible than what the group originally considered. Something similar to Harvest Wind Farm in Huron County where 32 turbines have been set up could be a model, he said.
The local start-up company was looking at something as small as four or five turbines to supply electricity to the Global Ethanol plant near Blissfield, he said, which was also started with a feasibility study by the Lenawee County Commission’s agricultural advisory committee.
Gould reported on progress of the wind power project Thursday to that committee.
The fixed costs involved in setting up a wind generation project are so large that small projects are less feasible, he said.
“You’ve got to get enough turbines into it to cover your costs,” Gould said.
One major expense is bringing in large cranes needed to mount 53-ton turbines on the steel towers, he said. Legal costs for organizing a project are estimated at $100,000, he said, regardless of the number of turbines that would be installed.
Great Lakes Wind is preparing to start documenting wind power potential in the Blissfield area. Gould said metering equipment has been ordered and should be delivered in another two to four weeks. The meters are to be installed on a cellular telephone antenna tower east of Blissfield. County commissioner John Tuckerman, R-Blissfield, is working out an agreement with a cellular telephone company to lease space for the wind meters.
The cellular telephone tower is to be used in place of renting a wind-metering tower as originally planned. The county commission voted in December to allocate $20,000 for the wind testing with private sources paying for a second tower. That money has not been used.
Gould said the agricultural advisory committee will instead be asked to seek reimbursement from the commission for at least a portion of the wind-metering equipment it has spent $22,000 to purchase.
By owning its own equipment, Great Lakes Wind can leave the meters on the tower for two or three years to gather data that will help pinpoint locations where turbines would be most efficient. Demand has grown so much that turbines ordered now are not expected to be delivered until 2012, he said. The current $1.6 million cost per turbine is estimated to rise to $2 million by then, he added.
Great Lakes Wind officials met Wednesday night with a group of invited land owners from Blissfield, Deerfield, Riga and Ogden townships to talk about the project, Gould said.
“Before they go into the fields to work they ought to know we are still working on leases,” he told the committee.
The presentation given to land owners included an explanation that a community project would have more local economic impact than one owned by outside developers.
Construction of towers for generating turbines is a major project, he said. The 100-ton steel towers built for Harvest Wind Farm in Huron County each required a foundation 52 feet in diameter and 8 feet deep. Each foundation required 18 tons of steel reinforcement rods and 360 yards of concrete. Gould said roads had to be built across farm fields for equipment used in erecting the towers and setting the turbines.
While the costs are large, Gould said, he believes the investment risks would be much less than those involved in the ethanol plant project. Prices for electricity to be sold to utilities or other customers would be laid out in contracts over terms of five or 10 years, he said. The only unknown will be exactly how much wind there will be to crank electricity out of the generating turbines.
By Dennis Pelham
17 April 2008
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