GRATIOT COUNTY – What is already slated to be the largest wind farm in Michigan could within two years be twice the size.
Chicago-based Invenergy announced Tuesday it is in the early stages of expanding its four township, 125 turbine, 30,000 acre-wind farm development to five more townships – Lafayette, Emerson, North Star, Newark and Hamilton – in southern Gratiot County.
Kevin E. Parzyck, Invenergy Wind senior project manager, said the second phase of the project will be very similar to the first phase, and should be in the same ballpark of costing $440 million and generating 200 megawatts of electricity. The second phase of the project, like the first, will create 10 to 15 long-term jobs, and extend construction jobs for about 150 people.
“If things work out we’ll be able to dovetail our construction and move into a second phase,” Parzyck said.
The first phase of the project will include the erection of turbines in four townships – Wheeler, Bethany, Lafayette and Emerson – in northeast Gratiot County. More than 240 landowners have signed agreements to lease their property for the windmills, and DTE Energy has signed a 20-year lease to purchase $1.1 billion worth of electricity. Access road construction is in its early stages and foundations construction will begin once the frost restrictions are lifted in April, Parzyck said.
The second phase of the project also will provide opportunities for landowners to make additional income by leasing their land for turbine use with minimal disruption, Parzyck said.
Turbine components should begin arriving in July, and the 328-foot-tall turbines, reaching a height of 464 feet from the ground when the 271-foot-long spinning rotors extend vertically, should be erected by late 2011 or early 2012, he said.
The second phase of the project will expand the farm into the southern portion of Gratiot County, and there are plans for Invenergy to host open houses and informational meetings for landowners in the area. Invenergy currently is working on collecting wind and land data for the five townships where the expansion is set to take place.
No power-purchase agreement has been made, Parzyck said.
“We don’t have a timeline right now for the second phase,” he said. “We are working with the utility companies for a purchase agreement and that will drive our timeline.”
Anyone with questions regarding the wind farm can stop in to Invenergy’s Breckenridge office at 228 E. Saginaw.
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