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Genoa pulls plug on wind project after device ‘self-destructed,’ manufacturer filed for bankruptcy

Genoa Township’s three-year effort to tap wind energy at Township Hall is coming to an end.

The township Board of Trustees on Monday approved the dismantling of five spiral-shaped wind turbines after one of the turbines “self-destructed” at the location, 2911 Dorr Road.

Removal of the wind turbines also became necessary after Windspire Energy, the company that manufactured the turbines, filed for bankruptcy and could no longer offer product support, Township Manager Michael Archinal said.

The April turbine accident sent shards of metal around the township’s nearby park area, officials said. An inspection found similar mechanical problems in a second wind turbine on the township property.

The wind turbines, installed in 2010, were funded with about $85,000 in federal stimulus dollars under the controversial American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They are visible off Interstate 96 north of the freeway.

The township paid about $8,000 to install the turbines, and it will pay about about another $1,600 to remove them through the contract approved Monday.

A series of five solar panels installed as part of the turbine project have proven to create cost savings and will be repositioned for better capture of solar rays at the hall, Archinal said.

He said the solar panels to date have outpowered the wind turbines by a margin of 3-to-1, despite little sunlight in southeastern Michigan for several months each year.

Archinal said the project was a “beta,” or pilot, effort, and it was successful in bringing the public’s attention to sources of renewable energy.