BLISSFIELD, Mich. – A meteorological tower and wind-metering equipment could be in the air within days, said the chairman of a local start-up company organizing a power-generating venture.
Several individuals put up money to buy a 60-meter tower after plans to install wind meters on a cellular telephone tower east of Blissfield were shelved, said Larry Gould, chairman of Great Lakes L.L.C. The tower and metering equipment have been delivered, he said, and could be set up within days. It will be raised at a leased site in Ogden Township off Thompson Highway south of Weston Road, he said.
“The committee is getting anxious. They want to see something up and recording the wind,” Gould said.
It has taken months longer to start wind testing than was expected in December when the county’s agricultural advisory committee asked the Lenawee County Commission for a $20,000 appropriation. But the project is moving in the right direction, said private consultant David Munson of Adrian.
In December, the group was looking at leasing a tower for one year. The focus then turned to buying meters and installing them on a cellular telephone tower. But that option is expensive and the data is not considered as reliable as from towers designed for meteorological gear, Munson said.
Gould agreed the delay turned out to be beneficial.
“This tower will be our tower,” he said.
Working with Michigan State University, the group found a source to purchase a tower and equipment for $17,000. It can be moved and used to test other sites in the future, he said.
Even after the tower is up and recording information, there are still major obstacles to overcome, Gould said. An analysis of the wind data is needed to show if the area is viable for commercial power generation. The analysis is expected to cost $40,000, he said.
Leases are also needed on up to 8,000 acres of land to put together a proposal for a commercial power-generation project, he said.
Great Lakes L.L.C. is interviewing companies involved in the wind power industry to see what help they can offer, Gould said.
“That’s exactly what we’re asking them. What can you do for us?” Gould said.
Munson said the same process was followed in developing a community-based ethanol plant project after a county-funded feasibility study several years ago.
“We’re very determined to make sure this is a community-based project,” Munson said.
It is unlikely enough money can be raised from local investors to have a majority ownership, he said.
“Luckily, there are people out there who want to do partnerships,” Munson said.
It is possible a number of smaller projects could spring from the effort being made, he added.
“Almost every school in the county has contacted us,” Munson said. They are interested in small-scale wind generators that could help supply power for their buildings and provide opportunities for students to learn about the industry.
“There’s a potential to make this a very popular project,” Munson said. After a slow start, he said, the group is nearing the point where it will move from gathering information to making decisions that will shape the future of the project.
By Dennis Pelham
31 May 2008
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