DTE Energy, the region’s electric utility, has completed construction and has started commercial operation of the Thumb Wind Park in Huron and Sanilac counties as it the company continues to step up its use of renewable energy.
Steve Kumas, DTE Energy-Electric president and chief operating officer, said the Thumb Wind Park is a 110-megawatt project featuring 69 1.6-megawatt GE wind turbines, spread across both counties. It generates enough renewable energy to power approximately 25,000 homes in Michigan, DTE officials said, he said.
“This brings DTE Energy’s total wind investment to more than 700 megawatts of company-owned or contracted projects and we’re confident we’ll meet the state’s renewable energy goals by 2015,” Kumas said.
“This is a great investment for us and the communities we serve in the two counties,” he said.
Operating on approximately 15,000 acres in Bloomfield, McKinley and Sigel townships in Huron County, and Minden and Delaware townships in Sanilac County, the wind project employed about 100 skilled construction workers.
It also employs 10 full-time workers to operate and maintain the facility and contributes to the area’s economic development through property tax payments, Kumas said.
The royalty payments to participating landowners also help support the local economy in the Thumb. At the same time, however, DTE has announced to phase out operation of an older coal-fired plant in Harbor Beach.
DTE Energy also has plans for an additional wind park in Huron County by the end of 2013, which will add another 110 MW to the company’s renewable energy portfolio. The Echo Wind Park, primarily in Oliver and Chandler townships, will be sited on nearly 16,000 acres and host up to 70 wind turbines.
DTE Energy expects to add about 1,000 MW of renewable energy capacity, or about 10 percent of its energy sales, by 2015. The 1,000-megawatt capacity is roughly the scope of traditional coal-fired plant.
DTE spokesman Scott Simons said 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 has a capacity of 22 MW.
DTE Energy’s renewable energy projects already producing, or in the planning or construction stages, will account for more than 8 percent of the company’s total generation.
DTE Energy is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include Detroit Edition, an electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan,
MichCon, a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan and other non-utility, energy businesses focused on gas storage and pipelines, unconventional gas production, power and industrial projects, and energy trading.
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