Holland – A wind farm in Overisel Township has been nixed in favor of buying into commercial wind energy options.
The Holland Board of Public Works’ option on the land that could have led to a wind farm has expired.
During the two-year study the BPW spent $667,751 to study the Overisel Township property, including weather, bat and avian and other environmental studies. Monday, the BPW Board of Directors told staff to shut down the development effort and remove the meteorological tower, Business Services Director Dan Nally said. There will be some added expense to complete that work.
The board of directors learned Monday that generating wind energy closer to home was not as economically plausible as buying into commercial wind projects.
“We can do better on the market than develop it ourselves,” Nally said. “There are several wind projects out there that are looking into purchase agreements, that are priced lower than we believe we can develop this project for.”
BPW staff will return to the board with formal proposals.
“There’s significantly less risk than going from ground zero to build one,” Nally said.
Buying into a commercial wind farm means no financial or construction risks, he said. It also eliminates the issue of public perception and whether people are willing to have wind turbines in their area. Even if the BPW isn’t developing its own wind farms, wind developers have taken notice of the market’s desire for the renewable energy, Nally said.
“It does create lots of opportunity,” he said.
The BPW’s first wind study was at Stone Mountain in the Upper Peninsula about three years ago, Nally said.
“There just wasn’t enough wind,” he said.
But the BPW and other electric providers have to continue efforts to provide energy with renewable resources. Michigan law requires 10 percent of each public utility’s energy come from renewable sources by 2015.
The state’s requirements are implemented incrementally. The first requirement was 2 percent by 2012. The BPW is at about 4 percent now, Nally said.
“We’re actually OK right now,” he said. “We’re good until about 2018, 2019.”
The BPW has three contracts for renewable sources now, including Grayling Generating Station for biomass energy and Grainger and North American Natural Resources for landfill gas.
A ballot initiative that will ask Michigan voters if 25 percent of the generated electricity should be from renewable resources by 2025 could force the public utility to explore its renewable options.
“If that passes, we will have to look at more renewables,” Nally said.
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