Tower first step of feasibility of wind farm in Silver CreekPublished 10:10am Wednesday, December 9, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
Last Wednesday, Dec. 2, Silver Creek Township Planning Commission approved a special land-use permit application from Heritage Sustainable Energy, LLC, in Traverse City.
This clears the way for heritage to erect a 200-foot-tall meteorological (MET) tower.
According to Heritage agent “Andy” Valdmanis, the tower will be located on the west side of Indian Lake Road, just north of Swisher Street.
The MET tower is used to collect data for about a year on wind resources to help determine the feasibility of installing utility-grade wind turbines up to 400 feet tall for generation of electric power.
Heritage is in the process of leasing tracts for possibly constructing a wind farm in the northwest part of the township north of Dowagiac.
Each turbine could produce 1.5 mega watts of electricity.
Such a development would produce hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for the township and county as well as power because of personal property taxes on turbines.
But “we’ve got to make a lot of people happy before this happens,” Valdmanis cautioned in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
“They’re a player in the energy field,” Silver Creek Supervisor Bill Saunders said, noting the “ridge” that runs through the township down to Eau Claire which seems to cause wind speed to pick up.
Ridges appear on maps, Valdmanis indicated.
“That’s one element,” but so are “reasonable access to transmission lines and a community that’s at least curious. It’s critical to have community interest in a project.”
Valdmanis said he has been talking to landowners for well over a year to get to this point, since a wind operation can be another source of farm income.
“It all takes time,” he said. “I don’t want to sell them anything. I want to teach them,” although there could be a signing bonus in it for landowners.
Heritage has been working in wind for nearly a decade.
Its first project in August 2008 is known as Stoney Corners in McBain in the Cadillac area – northern Michigan’s first wind farm, where each tower is supposed to produce enough power for 900 homes.
When huge sections of wind turbine were trucked through downtown Cadillac, onlookers were attracted by pieces weighing up to 68 tons and 69 feet long. They vary in size and height. The heaviest tipped the scales at about 130,000 pounds down to just over 100,000 pounds.
Heritage went on line with five megawatts in the fall of 2008 and added 14 more megawatts (seven turbines) since.
Asked about huge blades transported through downtown Cassopolis recently, Valdmanis indicated they are being made in Des Moines, Iowa, and shipped throughout the Midwest.
While he had no way of knowing for sure, he said one possibility was that they could have been bound for the Thumb.
Michigan faces a “unique scenario” of having to tap 10-percent renewable sources by 2015, so that could accelerate previoius timelines, Valdmanis said.
“It’s going to get real competitive down the road,” he predicts.