|MANISTEE – Huge wind turbines could pop up in Manistee farmlands in 2012, generating enough electricity to power 30,000 homes, while employing nearly 300 workers in a rural county hard hit by the recession.Duke Energy of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been quietly contacting farmers in Manistee and Benzie counties to see if they would be willing to lease land for the Gail Windpower Project, which would consist of 56 wind turbines capable of generating 101 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity. The first phase of the project will encompass approximately 8,000 acres of land in Manistee County, primarily around Arcadia and Pleasanton.”We hear a lot of talk out there by all the pundits about creating jobs in Michigan,” said Manistee County Commission Chairman Allan O’Shea who is working with Duke Energy to make the proposed wind farm become reality.
“Well this is going to produce 280 jobs for 18 months, and produce revenues for the counties that aren’t going to be tied to people moving into the counties or increasing or improving infrastructure because these are systems that operate themselves. The benefactors will be the community.”
O’Shea said it will take time to get approvals, zoning and building code changes, land owner buy-in, plus negotiate an agreement to sell the power generated to utilities. He estimates completion of the project in late 2012 or early 2013.
“It’s about time a large renewable project is taking place in Northern Michigan,” said O’Shea who is president of Contractors Building Supply in Manistee.
At a web site set up to provide land owners with information about the project called Gailwindspower.Com, Duke Energy discloses details:
“Landowner benefits include steady income from land-lease agreements, wind turbine fees and revenue sharing. In addition, landowners can still use their property for other purposes, including farming, ranching and recreation.
“Community benefits include a new source of tax revenue that the community can count on year after year, a large number of construction jobs (and a smaller number of operations jobs), and emissions-free electricity generated locally. Communities with wind energy projects also see an increase in direct and indirect economic activity, particularly during the construction phase, when hotels, restaurants, groceries, pharmacies, parts suppliers, service providers and various other vendors benefit from additional business.
“Duke Energy Generation Services, a commercial business unit of Duke Energy, will develop, construct and operate the wind farm. We will commit to build the project once a long-term power purchase agreement is in place.”
Duke Energy develops, owns and operates utility-scale wind power projects. The company currently has seven commercial wind farms in operation in three states – Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming – totaling 735 megawatts. With the addition of two new wind power projects – one in Colorado and another in Wyoming – Duke Energy will have nearly 1,000 megawatts in operation by the end of 2010.
Author: Mike Brennan