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Wind turbine towers could sprout in Saginaw County for the first time as part of three-county wind farm

BLUMFIELD TWP. – Saginaw County’s Blumfield Township could see five or more giant wind turbines dotting the community’s rural landscape.

The turbines would be part of a 75-turbine wind farm that NextEra Energy Resources plans to build primarily in Bay and Tuscola counties, but also including a small part of northeastern Saginaw County.

The $250 million wind farm will encompass more than 9,000 acres in all, said Steve Stengel, a company spokesman.

Blumfield Township could see five turbines, at last count, said Township Clerk Lisa A. Roethlisberger, but that number may change.

“It’s definitely a unique project to the township and probably one that involves more township involvement than ever before,” she said.

The turbines would mark the first time the towering 466-foot-tall, General Electric-built 1.6-megawatt wind machines would spin over Saginaw County.

The turbines could sprout along Wilshire east of Beyer, she said. Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra will have to submit plans and attend public hearings for a go-ahead. The company will have to obtain a variety of permits, too.

If approved, building could start next May. Stengel expects the final number of towers in Saginaw County to remain below 10.

“The idea certainly has some potential,” said Saginaw County Planner Doug Bell. “We’ve seen some development in the surrounding areas.”

First up, a 7 p.m. Tuesday public hearing at the Township Hall, 1175 W. Vassar, to amend a wind ordinance that will set a buffer zone between the machines and homes and businesses. A company spokeswoman has said NextEra installs wind turbines 1,400 feet, or more than a quarter mile, from a home.

NextEra has not released information on how much it would lease land from landowners.

“Those are contractual arrangements between us and the customers and we don’t talk about that,” Stengel said.

However, estimates show the project in total would provide $50 million in lease payments, $19 million in property taxes and support a $21 million payroll over three decades.