HURON COUNTY – With the passing of a moratorium on wind energy Thursday, construction of two projects have been delayed, while expansion of another also is on hold.
About 220 landowners have leased 24,380 acres of land to Colorado-headquartered RES Americas for its Deerfield Wind project. Thirty-five turbines are planned for Dwight Township, 25 for self-zoned Huron Township, 11 in Bloomfield and one in Lincoln. Project areas were deemed suitable for wind development in 2011.
Seventy-two Vestas turbines would contribute 150 megawatts, which the developer says is enough to power 50,000 to 60,000 homes. Cadillac-based Wolverine Power Cooperative is the power purchaser. Turbines planned for the project reach 492 feet from ground to blade tip.
Development Manager Brad Lila said RES has listened to the county’s concerns for setbacks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s iteration that turbines should not be placed within three miles of the shoreline. Some turbines had to be removed, but every one sits on a property line and none are within three miles of the shore, Lila told county planners Wednesday.
To disassemble the project after a 20- to 25-year life, it would cost about $108,000 per turbine, Lila said, adding the developer planned to secure a corporate guarantee and deposit control agreement within the next few days.
RES Americas is a privately held company with no eminent domain rights, and Lila said in January the developer has spent about $3 million on the project so far.
Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy plans Apple Blossom for its first project in Michigan. It would span about 10,700 acres, bringing 40 turbines to Winsor Township and 10 to McKinley. About 112 landowners have signed leases. Project areas were deemed suitable for wind development in 2011.
David Shiflett, project manager, said the 100-megawatt park is a more than $160 million project, enough to power 20,000 homes each year and would bring 10 full-time jobs to the area. Construction was slated for early this year, and would take about six to seven months from groundbreaking for the park to become operational.
Geronimo estimates tax revenue in the first year to be $1.7 million, with the Laker school district receiving about $195,000 and the county gaining $353,000 per year. Landowners would be set to receive $480,000 per year in 20-year contracts. Officials say the developer has spent about $16 million on the project so far.
The developer has taken flak from residents, county officials and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife for siting turbines between two to three miles of the shoreline.
Traverse City-based Heritage Energy plans to add 15 turbines to its 10-turbine Big Turtle Wind Farm in Rubicon and Bloomfield townships. On Wednesday, Heritage Vice President Rick Wilson said the 50-megawatt project, with Gamesa turbines, could be completed by the end of next year. The expansion would cover about 3,840 acres between the two townships.
Some turbines planned for within three miles of the shoreline were removed, Wilson said. Heritage says a cost to decommission the park would run $138,000 per turbine.
In October 2013, planners approved the $50 million project for the first 10 turbines, which were put up in late 2014.
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