HOLLAND – Holland Board of Public Works officials remain optimistic that they can generate wind power close to home, even though early results of a study at two test locations in Allegan County have not generated the hoped-for outcomes.
Winds at a site in Ganges Township have been ranked as class 1, the lowest on a seven-point scale, while at another site in Overisel Township, the winds ranged between class 1 and 2.
The BPW has been collecting wind data from the two locations since October under an option agreement with SWMI Wind Energy Development LLC, which gives the city-owned utility a year to determine whether a wind energy project might be feasible.
“You really want a year’s worth of data (to make an informed decision),” Loren Howard, BPW general manager, said Wednesday after updating the City Council on the study. “It still may come out to be viable to do.”
The BPW entered into the option agreement at the two sites after two earlier efforts to look into the feasibility of wind energy proved fruitless – one in Upper Michigan’s Chippewa County and another at Windmill Island Gardens. Howard told the council that the wind speed and consistency at the Ganges Township site has been similar, to date, to that found at the Upper Peninsula site.
BPW has spent $500,000 on the effort: $125,000 on the option and another $375,000 on meteorological towers and equipment to measure the wind and other studies. A 2009 report from the Michigan Wind Energy Resource Zone Board rated Allegan County as one of the top four onshore areas in the state with the highest potential for a wind-energy project.
Mayor Kurt Dykstra expressed concern about the early findings.
“I understand we have high hopes for this, but hopes don’t necessarily result in electricity,” he said.
But Howard said he is hopeful that the spring and early summer will produce more favorable wind conditions. A final report to the BPW board is expected this fall.
“We’re going to wait and see what another three months brings,” Howard said.
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