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MPSC denies motions to stay Thumb Loop approval  

Credit:  By Kate Hessling, Tribune Staff Writer, Huron Daily Tribune, www.michigansthumb.com 13 April 2011 ~~

LANSING – The Michigan Public Service Commission on Tuesday denied the motions filed last month by parties asking the commission to stay its approval of the Thumb Loop.

The Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA) and the Michigan Municipal Electric Association (MMEA) filed a motion for the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to stay pending the outcome of an appeal the organizations filed last month in the Michigan Court of Appeals in regard to the MPSC’s Feb. 25 approval of the Thumb Loop route.

Also last month, the Association of Business Advocating Tariff Equity (ABATE) filed a motion for stay and motion for immediate consideration regarding the MPSC’s Feb. 25 approval of the Thumb Loop route, which consists of about 140 miles of double-circuit 345,000 volt (345 kV) lines and four new substations. The Thumb Loop route runs in Tuscola, Huron, Sanilac and St. Clair counties. The Thumb Loop project will serve as the “backbone” of a system designed to meet the identified minimum and maximum wind energy potential of the Thumb region.

To facilitate wind developments, The Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act (PA 295) of 2008 created a Wind Energy Resource Zone board to identify regions in the state with the highest wind potential. The board identified the Thumb region as having the highest potential, and it was declared the state’s primary wind resource zone.

Because the area’s electrical grid is just about at maximum capacity, there was a need for an upgrade. PA 295 requires MPSC to grant an expedited siting certificate to facilitate such an upgrade, providing a number of requirements are met, including one stating the proposed transmission line has the capacity to handle the wind potential of the wind energy resource zone.

He said DTE Energy has not selected which type of turbine will be used in the three wind farms, though it has received bids two weeks ago from turbine manufacturers and the average turbine submitted in the proposals is 2 megawatts. The company’s team currently is reviewing to determine which unit has the best reliability and will perform best at those three sites, Conlen said. A secondary consideration will be whether turbines are built with components manufactured in Michigan.

“We want to build the renewable energy industry as much as possible within the state,” said Senior Specialist Scott Simons, of DTE Energy, Media Relations.

The wind farm development is part of DTE Energy’s plan to meet Michigan’s renewable energy goals. DTE Energy expects to add about 1,200 megawatts of renewable power, or about 10 percent of its power, by 2015. The company plans to own facilities to supply up to half of that power and contract with third-party producers for the remainder.

Conlen said the three wind farms announced today will be the first wind farms DTE Energy has developed and owned. He said the first wind project DTE Energy will have ownership of is being developed in Gratiot County and will be online next year. The difference between that park and the three announced in the Upper Thumb area is that the Gratiot County wind project is being developed by a different company, and DTE Energy will assume ownership once the project’s built.

Source:  By Kate Hessling, Tribune Staff Writer, Huron Daily Tribune, www.michigansthumb.com 13 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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