May 9, 2011

Board of Public Works explores $40,000 wind study in Overisel, Filmore townships

By ANDREA GOODELL, The Holland Sentinel, 9 May 2011

Holland, MI —

Holland is delving further into a wind energy project started last year.

The Holland Board of Public Works wants to lease 859 acres in Overisel and Filmore townships for $40,000 to study whether wind there would be viable for electricity production.

“If things don’t look good at the end of the day, we walk away,” BPW Chairman Tim Hemingway said at a Monday meeting.

The BPW agreed in July to pay SWMI Wind Energy Development LLC $125,000 for a one-year option to buy or lease easements the company has with various land owners. SWMI has since bought leases to other properties.

Data, so far, shows both the northern and southern sites could be “commercially viable.” In other words, they would produce energy for 10 cents or less a kilowatt hour. The wind is a 1 or a 2 on a industry scale where 1 is the lowest and 7 is the highest.

However, the BPW is not pursuing properties now available at the southern site, General Manager Loren Howard said, indicating it might not be as viable.

The northern site’s proximity to the BPW service territory would allow a direct connection and would be cheaper than tapping into the grid. It also is close enough to sites already under scrutiny that the existing MET towers will be used to analyze them.

The BPW is paying $375,000 to determine whether the sites are useful for wind energy.

The public utility has collected wind data from Meteorological – or MET – towers in Ganges and Overisel townships since October.

“The HBPW anticipates developing a 20 to 30 MW wind project within these townships. In order to effectively do this, additional land leases are required,” according to a memo.

The Holland City Council would have to approve the new leases.

The undisclosed locations are in Ganges, Saugatuck and other Allegan County townships and total about 3,700 acres, officials said.

BPW officials could not give specific numbers for the potential project’s total cost, saying it depended on too many factors. However, a 100-megawatt wind farm “easily” could cost $200 million, BPW Director of Business Services Dan Nally said when the project was first approved. Other partners could be brought in.

It would be 18 months to two years after studies are complete before any potential construction could begin.

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