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NextEra looks to Gilford Township to place wind turbines originally planned for Bay County

MERRITT TOWNSHIP – A rural Bay County community denied plans last month to place nine wind turbines in the area, part of a 75-turbine project proposed by Florida-based Next Era Energy.

Now, NextEra officials are seeking approval to construct the wind turbines in Gilford Township instead.

“We have 63 wind turbines already approved in Gilford,” said Mary Wells, spokesperson for NextEra Energy. “We have asked Gilford if we can seek an additional eight turbines in five primary sites and three alternate sites.”

The Gilford Township Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27 at Gilford Township Hall, 6230 W. Gilford Road.

Interested parties can voice their opinion on NextEra Energy’s request for a Special Use Permit for a Utility Grid Wind Energy System.

The project includes an additional eight sites that would house an anemometer and eight wind turbines capable of producing 12.8 megawatts of power. In December, Gilford Township approved a plan to build 63 wind turbines.

Seven wind turbines were also approved in Saginaw County’s Blumfield Township. With 70 of the 75 turbines in the $250 million project approved, Wells said that NextEra needs five of the eight locations that are proposed in Gilford Township to be approved.

“Three of them are alternate sites,” Wells said. “We have to do ground boring at the sites to make sure that the ground is suitable to support a turbine – if a location is too wet or the soil composition isn’t right, then we have alternates.”

Merritt Township has approved an electrical substation to be placed near the intersection of Wilshire Road and Beyer Road. Wind turbines from Gilford and Blumfield Townships are going to be connected to the substation through 280 miles of underground collection cable.

“From the substation, power goes to the transmission and distribution system,” Wells said. “All of the turbines will be making electricity, but they are not connected to the power grid, then the power isn’t serving anyone.”