HURON COUNTY – DTE Energy is eyeing more than 20,000 acres across four townships for a new wind energy project.
The utility sent a letter dated Feb. 24 to the county requesting a wind energy overlay district, which, if approved by county planners, would deem areas suitable for construction of a wind project. The county planning commission is set to review DTE’s request on Wednesday.
Included in DTE’s request is a map showing property easements for wind energy the utility has obtained in the majority of Lincoln Township and portions of Dwight, Bloomfield and Sigel townships.
“It is too early to speculate on number or size of turbines,” DTE Lead Communications Specialist Jennifer Wilt said in an email.
“Huron County’s recent wind ordinance revisions are more restrictive, so we are evaluating this area of land in light of these changes.”
Wilt says planning for the project has only recently begun.
“It is important to note that DTE requested the overlay because this approval process can take time, and it is essential should we decide to move forward with developing a detailed site plan,” Wilt said.
Wind energy and other renewables development spurred largely from a 2008 state mandate that required utilities to generate 10 percent from renewable energy sources by the end of 2015. Utilities exceeded the 10 percent by that time, according to a Michigan Public Service Commission report. Utilities by law must continue to meet the mandate.
And, the IRS extended a corporate renewable electricity production tax credit available to developers to Dec. 31, 2019. The credit applies to a project’s first 10 years of operation, with a rebate amount of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour.
Wilt says DTE continues to explore sites throughout the state for wind and solar projects, but there are no plans for specific projects.
“DTE will continue to invest in new renewable energy – with or without new state mandates. DTE believes renewable energy should and will be a growing part of DTE’s long-term plan to move us to a cleaner, more diversified energy portfolio,” she said in an email.
Currently, there are 40 DTE turbines between Sigel and Bloomfield townships. They were energized in 2012.
In a separate project, DTE plans to start building its Pinnebog Wind Park on 13,000 acres in Oliver, Chandler and Colfax townships in the spring. It would add 30 turbines.
Other developers also plan to break ground once the frost lifts. Dwight, Lincoln and Huron townships will receive their first turbines as part of a 72-unit spread. Neighboring Rubicon Township is set to get 10 more, while McKinley and Winsor would split 30.
In all, the projects would boost the county’s total wind turbine count to about 475. There are currently 328 turbines in the county.
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