August 9, 2013

Construction of newest wind farm begins

By Nich Wolak, Tribune Staff Writer | Huron Daily Tribune | August 9, 2013 |

UPPER THUMB – A project official told the Planning Commission this week that construction on NextEra’s Pheasant Run Wind Project would begin Thursday.

The project is scheduled to have 88 turbines in portions of Brookfield, Fairhaven, Grant, Oliver, Sebewaing and Winsor townships, making it the largest wind farm in the county.

Blattner Energy, of Avon, Minn. will be handling the construction. The company has also worked with NextEra on the Tuscola Wind II Project in Fairgrove.

Project Manager Ryan Pumford said that construction officials and landowners were able to meet each other last week.

“A lot of people had some very good questions, and our team had … some very good answers for them,” Pumford said. “I think everyone left that meeting satisfied (and) more comfortable with Jeff Smith, director of the Huron County Building and Zoning Office, said he knew at least one landowner who was satisfied.

“I got a phone call today from a property owner in the Pheasant Run property area, one that has typically not been very supportive,” Smith said. “He said he met with the construction team, and he is very happy with the outcome of that meeting. It seems like things are where they should be.”

Pumford said the company hopes to have access road completed in six weeks, and most of the large construction done by the end of the year.

After that would be cleanup and then the commissioning of the turbines.

“That’s a pretty aggressive plan,” said Chairman Clark Brock.

“That’s a lot of work,” added Planner Mary Babcock.

“Yes it is,” Pumford acknowledged. “It is very aggressive, but Blattner Energy is absolutely top-notch. I think everyone is going to be happy working with them – (they have been) so far. Tuscola II has been under construction for over a month now. I know those landowners have been happy working with Blattner, and they go fast.”

Next Era’s speed comes after a delayed start – legal issues in Brookfield Township prevented their site plan review from being looked at by the Planning Commission in May.

The site plan review was approved by planners in June, but it was pending on several conditions being met, including more specific bonding language being approved by the Board of Commissioners.

That language was approved by the board at its July 22 meeting. Even with the delays, NextEra only is a couple weeks off from its original goal of beginning construction in July.

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