MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – The first payment from the private wind-farm developer investigating a potential wind energy project on the Muskegon County wastewater site is in the hands of county officials.
Gamesa Energy USA, a subsidiary of a Spanish-based wind-energy company, sent a $110,000 check that the county received this week, marking a potential starting point for the company’s investigation of the site.
Muskegon County Wastewater Director Mark Eisenbarth said the company plans to install three meteorological or MET towers on the 11,000-acre site in Egelston and Moorland townships to measure wind speeds. The county has been gathering wind speed data for months with its portable wind speed test unit, but the company requires additional data before making a final decision on proceeding with construction of a wind farm.
Gamesa did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
County and Gamesa Energy officials signed a lease in May that gives the wind farm developer and wind turbine manufacturer the exclusive rights to investigate erecting commercial-scale wind turbines on the wastewater site. If all goes as planned and the upcoming studies produce favorable results, a 150-megawatt wind farm built could be producing energy in late 2014.
The county’s lease with Gamesa begins with the development term, which is five years long with two possible one-year extensions. The development term allows for completion of the necessary studies, including environmental, and pursuit of a long-term contract to sell the generated power.
The $110,000 payment covers the first two years of the lease and is nonrefundable.
The initial plan calls for placement of one MET tower north of White Road, one between White and Apple Avenue and one south of Apple Avenue. The specifications of the MET tower have yet to be determined, so the height of the tower is unknown.
County officials have previously estimated the value of the project at about $300 million. If deemed feasible, the company would erect turbines – possibly 30-75 depending on the size of the turbine – in various areas of the site.
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