MUSKEGON, MI – It’s been a few quiet years since Gamesa secured a lease agreement to potentially develop a wind farm at the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System.
But Muskegon County officials and the power company’s officials say that the development is still on the table.
Consumers Energy spokesman Roger Morgenstern recently confirmed that his company has been talking to Gamesa Wind about possibly buying electricity from a wind farm.
The waste water plant’s rare design features an earth-friendly process, with large water treatment pools and farmland where the water is used, all spread over 11,000 acres. Gamesa Energy USA, a subsidiary of a Spanish wind-energy company, since 2011 has had development rights there via a lease agreement with the county, and has conducted testing in the area.
“There haven’t been any decisions made,” Morgenstern said. “We are in discussions with them. … We continue to keep the door open.
It’s just not the viability of the site that makes it interesting to Consumers.
“The location, the transmission lines are very interesting,” Morgenstern continued. “There’s a large transmission line that goes down to the wastewater plant. It’s very cost-effective.”
Gamesa didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Morgenstern said that Mark Eisenbarth, the former Muskegon County Wastewater Management System director, was part of talks in the past. Eisenbarth has since been promoted to be the county’s top administrator.
“Mark Eisenbarth was part of those discussions in his (former) role, and I expect he still will be as administrator,” Morgenstern said.
Eisenbarth said that Gamesa tests at the site have backed up independent testing the county had done, showing that there seems to be sufficient wind speed and “wind days” to support a wind farm.
“The testing results are pretty much the same as the results with our equipment,” he said. “Once they have tentative agreements, they’ll start looking at those environmental impact studies.”
Gamesa manufactures wind turbines themselves in addition to developing wind farms. A new model of turbine, the G114, works more efficiently than previous models, Eisenbarth said.
“They’ve got the wind,” Eisenbarth said. “They’ve got the models they want to use. They just need to find (the customers).”
Gamesa has a five-year lease agreement to try to develop a wind farm on the property. The company is entering year four of that agreement, Eisenbarth said, and the county in 2016 could decide to either give them an extension or open the project up to other development firms.
Consumers Energy opened the 111-megawatt Cross Winds Energy Park, a wind farm in the thumb area of the Michigan Mitten, around Thanksgiving this year. It also is in line to purchase electricity from a planned 1.4 megawatt anaerobic digester at Beaver Creek Farm in Coopersville.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding