MCKINLEY TOWNSHIP, MI – A new, 100-megawatt wind farm is coming to Michigan’s Thumb, and Consumers Energy has entered into an agreement to purchase renewable energy from it.
Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, has entered into a long-term agreement with Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy to buy electricity from the Apple Blossom Wind Farm to be located in Huron County, according to a Consumers Energy news release.
The wind farm will span an estimated 11,000 acres in McKinley and Winsor townships.
On-site construction of the new wind farm is expected to begin next spring. It is expected to be operational in 2016 or 2017, according to Geronimo’s marketing and communications manager Lindsay Smith.
“Geronimo is pleased to see Apple Blossom take this important step forward with Consumers Energy, a leading Michigan utility,” Smith said.
“The project will bring substantial economic benefit to the local area, and as a farmer-friendly organization, we are happy to see rural areas such as the Apple Blossom community receive such a positive impact.”
Smith declined to disclose the cost of the project.
As part of this agreement, Consumers Energy will have a future option to purchase the wind farm, the release states.
“We are committed to providing electricity that is affordable, reliable and sustainable, especially as seven of our coal plants are retired by April 15 next year,” Tim Sparks, Consumers Energy’s vice president for energy supply operations, said in a statement.
“This new agreement demonstrates that we will enter into contracts with qualified independent third parties when projects like this one contribute to keeping our business rates competitive and our residential bills affordable.”
Geronimo Energy has developed multiple operating wind farms and solar projects throughout the Midwest. Approximately 1,000 megawatts of wind projects and 200 megawatts of solar projects developed by Geronimo throughout the Midwest are expected to be constructed by the end of 2016, according to company officials.
When this new project goes online, Consumers Energy will exceed Michigan’s renewable energy portfolio mandate for utilities, having already reached its target of obtaining 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources a year ahead of schedule, the release states.
Today, Consumers Energy purchases power from seven Michigan wind farms, and owns and operates two wind farms.
Consumers Energy opened the Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County in 2012 and the Cross Winds Energy Park in the Thumb last fall.
Consumers Energy also is developing its first community solar program, Solar Gardens, and could start generating electricity as early as next year from potential solar locations at Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University to supplement its portfolio of hydro, biomass, landfill gas and other renewable energy sources, the release states.
“Our company has a long history of making investments in wind, solar and other renewable energy sources on our own when they make sense for the Michigan residents we serve,” Sparks’ statement continued. “Our agreement with Geronimo Energy shows that Consumers Energy is working toward a Michigan-first energy solution powered by renewable resources right here in our state.”
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