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New wind turbine project set in Gratiot County

A new wind farm project is on its way to Gratiot County.

Consumers Energy announced Monday its plan to build up to 75 wind turbines in North Shade and New Haven townships that will have a capacity of up to 150 megawatts of wind energy once complete, a news release indicated.

The company has reached an agreement to own, construct and operate the project, which is being developed by Tradewind Energy.

Consumers Energy is expected to assume ownership in May 2019 and will be responsible for constructing and operating the project when it goes into commercial operation, expected in late 2020.

A development asset acquisition agreement will be executed where Consumers Energy will acquire a development package and then manage the wind farm construction. The purchase requires approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Under the agreement to acquire the wind energy park, Tradewind Energy will continue to perform studies, secure permits, acquire real estate and carry out other functions needed to develop the project to the construction stage.

Meanwhile, windmill construction is ongoing via Invenergy in Pine River Township, and in Coe Township in Isabella County.

This project calls for 65 turbines to be constructed; it is slated to be completed by the end of this year. Upon completion, ownership of the facility will be transferred to DTE Energy.

Concrete has been poured at the turbine sites and work is ongoing.

The base of operations is in St. Louis, where several of this project’s wind turbines are being constructed.

There will be 200 workers on the site during peak construction, and more than 27,000 acres are under lease for the project, said Beth Conley, Senior Manager of Strategic Communications at Invenergy on Monday.

“The project is in civil construction, building access roads and pouring turbine foundations, and the electrical collection system and substation grading and foundation work has begun,” Conley said in an email.

In July, turbine deliveries and erecting of towers will begin; GE turbines will be used.

A news release in May indicated Invenergy completed financing of private dollars for the project.

Once completed, the turbines will be able to power up to 47,000 homes, the Invenergy news release indicated.

The land for the operations base, also called the laydown yard, was rented to Invenergy by Tracy Ross, who owns 500 acres of land in St. Louis.

Ross’s land will have three turbines on it, he said.

“The ones that signed up for it are excited about it,” Ross said Sunday.

Although Kathy and Jim Johnson have 56 acres surrounding the project site in St. Louis, they will not have a turbine on their land, they said Sunday.

However, they did sign a right-of-way agreement because their land is part of where windmills will connect. They are receiving money from the company for their land being used.

“We have no problems with the windmills going up,” Jim Johnson said. “We’ve always been supportive of it.”

The couple can see the windmills from their home.

“We can’t hear anything (from them)” Johnson said. “I’ve never heard one being noisy.”

Also in Gratiot County, Fulton Township’s board of trustees have been considering banning windmill construction there.

The township’s planning commission received information to amend its zoning ordinance, said township supervisor Denise Rossman in an email on June 21.

At its June 19 meeting, the township board decided to table an ordinance to find out more information, Rossman said.

“(They) decided they needed more time to do their due diligence,” she said.