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Wind energy project planned for Sebewa Twp.; Current proposal calls for up to 50 wind turbines

SEBEWA TWP. – A renewable energy firm that plans to install wind turbines in southwest Ionia County hopes to begin construction sometime next year.

TCI Renewables held an open house at the Sebewa Township Hall on Oct. 3 to allow area residents to see the proposed plan for the Tupper Lake Wind Energy Project and provide feedback. The plan calls for up to 50 wind turbines to be constructed in Sebewa, Odessa, and Campbell townships. Each turbine would be about 490 feet tall and capable of generating between 1.5 and 2.5 megawatts of electricity. TCI officials hope to generate a total of 80 megawatts from the project., which would be sold on the open market.

Huw Roberts, development manager for TCI, said the project has been moving steadily forward since 2008.

“We have over 100 land owners in the area who have signed to be part of the project,” said Roberts. “We have been doing our environmental studies and assessments so we can complete the permit process by early 2012. The residents here have given us an good reception. They are excited about this project and anxious to see it go forward.”

Roberts said land owners in the project area who are interested in joining the project still have an opportunity to do so.

“We still have a few gaps that we would like to fill, but overall it has been going quite well.”

Brett O’Connor, operations director for TCI Renewables, said improved turbine technology has made the area more suited for a wind energy project.

“This location will benefit greatly from the improved turbine technology that has come along in the last two or three years,” said O’Connor. “We know have longer blades that are able to catch more wind and that has made this area more viable for this type of project.

“Plus we have developed projects similar to this size elsewhere,” added O’Connor. ‘We know what can work and we are able to put our best ideas together to make it work.”

O’Connor said that each of the turbine towers will be located at least 1,500 feet from any structure. He added that the company hopes to begin construction in 2012 to take advantage of a federal tax credit.

“That tax credit is only available until the end of 2012, and we are not sure if it will be extended,” said O’Connor. “We would like to start building the project in order to take advantage of that.”

The construction process should provide an economic boost to the area.

“It should be a boost for both the land owners as well as area businesses,” said Roberts. “There will be plenty of workers coming in to work on this project and they will be staying in area hotels and spending money in this area.”

Roberts said the next step would be to take the comments and suggestions received at the open house and go over the project plan once more.

“After that, we will probably do one more presentation where we bring our final plan before the public.”