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DTE announcing fourth Thumb wind farm

UPPER THUMB – DTE Energy officials today were to announce the company’s plan for a fourth wind park in the Thumb.

The development is being planned in Oliver and Chandler townships, which currently host the Harvest Wind I project and soon will be home to Harvest Wind II, both owned by the Exelon Corp. In the Harvest Wind I project, there are five turbines in Chandler Township and 27 in Oliver. Company officials previously indicated Harvest Wind II, which also will be in a small portion of McKinley Township, will include 32 or 33 turbines.

The wind park DTE Energy announced it plans to build there will be sited on nearly 16,000 acres and host up to 70 wind turbines. DTE Energy will file for approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission this summer. If approved, construction would begin next year, according to DTE Energy’s announcement.

If approved, the park will add another 110 megawatts (MW) to the company’s renewable energy portfolio.

The wind park in Oliver and Chandler townships is part of DTE Energy’s efforts to expand the company’s renewable energy resources. The wind park will add to the more than 500 MW of DTE Energy’s renewable energy projects already producing, or in the planning or construction stages.

“This wind park is another example of how DTE Energy is leading the way to clean, sustainable energy, creating jobs and supporting the communities we serve,” stated Trevor Lauer, DTE Energy vice president, Marketing & Renewables. “These wind parks will add to the employment base, the tax base and provide many other economic development opportunities.”

The wind park will be on some of the 80,000 acres in Huron County where DTE Energy has acquired easements. The company has started construction this year on three previously announced wind parks, totaling another 110 MW, on 15,000 acres in Huron and Sanilac counties.

The three other developments – dubbed the Minden, Sigel and McKinley wind farms – will be sited on nearly 15,000 acres in Bloomfield, Sigel and McKinley townships in Huron County, and Minden and Delaware townships in Sanilac County. Company officials previously indicated that combined, the three wind farms will consist of 69 wind turbines.

According to today’s announcement, the total investment for all four wind farms will be about $500 million.

DTE Energy has completed wind and wildlife studies at the wind park site in Chandler and Oliver townships, and it will begin the design and permitting processes that will lead to construction.

Lauer stated it was the comprehensive energy legislation passed in 2008 that made all of the wind parks and other renewable energy projects possible.

“We’re helping to create a new industry in Michigan,” he stated. “Over the next several years, many more wind turbines and solar installations will be built. These projects will create construction jobs, as well as jobs to operate and maintain the facilities.”

Wind park development is part of DTE Energy’s plan to meet Michigan’s renewable energy goals. DTE Energy expects to add about 1,000 MW of renewable power, or about 10 percent of its power, by 2015. The company plans to own facilities to supply up to half of that power and contract with third-party producers for the remainder.

The majority of the company’s renewable energy will come from wind resources, but it also has a solar energy pilot program that could produce approximately 20 MW. The utility’s renewable energy capacity under contract is about 7 percent of total generation.