The number of wind energy turbines in Huron County next summer is set to more than double in size from the 2012 totals, Jeff Smith, director of the Huron County Building and Zoning Office said Friday.
“By sometime next year, we should have 328 wind turbines in Huron County because of what has been approved and what is under construction,” Smith said. “Ninety-eight turbines are currently under construction.”
At the end of the year in 2012 there were 160 wind turbines in Huron County.
Smith said of the new wind parks, Pheasant Run Wind I and II, will contribute the most turbines to the area with 88 new units in production. The project is located south and west of the Village of Pigeon and includes Windsor, Oliver, Brookfield, Fairhaven and Sebewaing townships. The two sites are being completed for use by DTE Energy.
Smith said DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are on track to reach their goal of 10 percent renewable energy by 2015. Because of wind power, both companies should be in compliance with the Michigan Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act that was signed into law in 2008 by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The act requires Michigan electric providers to generate at least 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
Wind parks in Huron County should bring in an average of 542.4 megawatts of energy production a year, according to Smith. The new parks mean that 10 of Michigan’s 21 wind farms will be located in Huron County, according to a map at www.michigan.gov. The region has been designated as Michigan’s primary wind energy zone.
Wind power is the largest source of renewable energy in Michigan, but the Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act also allows that the 10 percent energy rate can to be reached other ways, such as solar energy, hydroelectric power, geothermal energy and biomass.
Despite the influx of new turbines in Michigan’s Thumb, the state still is behind many others in the percentage of power generated from wind turbines. According to www.energy.gov, South Dakota and Kansas receive 20 percent of their energy production from wind power.
In terms of power generated, Texas leads the way for most energy created by wind farms. According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state should produce 11,255 megawatts of wind energy in 2013.
Michigan produced more than 980 megawatts in 2012, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s annual market report.
“We’re behind a lot of states on wind production in the country,” Smith said. “But we’re on track to meet the standards put in place by the federal government.”
Smith said residents of Huron County first met wind turbines in the area with some skepticism, but the trend in the area seems to be moving forward for renewable energy.
“The first projects came through with about a 60 percent vote,” Smith said. “The latest projects that have been approved tend to be at participation levels with landowners around 85 to 90 percent. That’s where the turbines are located.”
Smith said he is neither for or against wind development.
“But when you have 80 to 90 percent of people wanting wind energy, we’re happy to work with them on the zoning ordinance,” he added.
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