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Public invited to learn about new wind park

PIGEON – DTE Energy officials will be in town next week to tell the public about the utility’s soon-to-be-built Echo Wind Park.

“We’re in constant contact with the landowners … but want to include the rest of the community in discussions about the wind park, (to) let them know what’s going on and what they can expect,” said Scott Simons, DTE spokesman.

DTE is hosting an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Pigeon District Library, 7236 Nitz St. In addition to DTE officials, representatives from Barton-Malow, the construction company, and General Electric, the turbine manufacturer, will be on hand to meet local residents and provide additional details about the Echo Wind Park’s construction and operation.

The Echo Wind Park in Huron County will be operational by the end of 2013 and add another 110 megawatts (MW) to the DTE Energy’s renewable energy portfolio. The wind park, primarily in Oliver and Chandler townships, will be sited on nearly 16,000 acres and host 70 wind turbines.

DTE Energy’s 110-MW Thumb Wind Park reached commercial operation in December 2012. In addition, DTE Energy has an ownership stake in the Gratiot County Wind Park. The wind park is a 212.8 MW project featuring 133 1.6-MW GE wind turbines. Sixty-four of the turbines are owned by DTE Energy, while 69 turbines are owned by Gratiot Wind LLC, an affiliate of Invenergy Wind LLC. DTE Energy purchases the power from Invenergy’s turbines under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Simons said the open house is open to the entire community, and anyone with questions or concerns can stop in and meet with project representatives.

He said DTE held a similar open house for its Thumb Wind Park, and it drew a nice crowd. DTE hopes to see just as many if not more attendees at next week’s open house.

Some of the questions that will be addressed during the open house include:

• What can you expect during wind farm construction?

• What can you expect when the wind turbines are in operation?

• How do wind farms benefit the environment?

• How do wind farms benefit the community?

Attendees will be offered refreshments and have the chance to enter a raffle to win gift certificates to local merchants.