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Wind energy company eyes Bay, Tuscola counties  

Credit:  By Kathryn Lynch-Morin | The Saginaw News, www.mlive.com 16 May 2011 ~~

MUNGER – A Florida company that in 2008 announced plans to build a wind farm in Bay and Tuscola counties will give area residents a chance this week to learn more about the company and its strategy.

Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy Resources hopes to install about 100 megawatts of wind power in the Bay-Tuscola county area, and will host open houses from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Fairgrove VFW Post 7486, 4734 Dutcher, in Akron, and from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Merritt Township Community Hall, 48 E. Munger.

NextEra said the project includes $15 million in property tax payments, $20 million in payments to 75 landowners, $25 million in salaries and benefits to 10 employees who will operate the park, and $30 million in the purchase of local goods and services by the company.

Spokesman Steve Stengel said the informal meetings will allow residents to learn about the wind farm’s construction, environmental issues and operation.

“People will be able to ask questions about what happens and what they can expect if the wind farm is built,” Stengel said. “The other thing they’ll be able to do is learn about our company, the company that’s proposing to build, own and operate this project.”

Michigan utilities continue to work to comply with the state’s renewable portfolio
standard that requires generating 10 percent of their power from renewable sources, including wind, by 2015. NextEra has its sights set on Bay County’s Merritt Township and three townships in Tuscola County for development of a 66-turbine commercial wind park.

Agreements will need to be reached with 75 landowners, including some in Saginaw County’s Blumfield Township, to allow for installation of transmission lines.

Such agreements typically allow a landowner to continue owning the land and farming around the pad and an access road. The landowner receives a percentage of profits from the sale of the renewable energy. How much money the landowners are due to receive is confidential.

NextEra bills itself as the largest generator of wind energy in North America. The company also owns natural gas-fired power plants, hydroelectric plants and nuclear plants.

NextEra has 67 wind projects in 16 states, but none in Michigan.

John Deere Renewables has two wind farms in the Thumb area, with 48 turbines near Ubly and 32 turbines near Elkton. Consumers Energy purchases the power generated by those wind farms.

DTE in April announced a $225 million investment to build three wind farms on 15,000 acres in Huron and Sanilac counties, to produce about 110 megawatts of electricity annually.

And in Gratiot County, Chicago-based Invenergy 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.

Source:  By Kathryn Lynch-Morin | The Saginaw News, www.mlive.com 16 May 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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