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Fruit Ridge area: wind farm mecca?

For at least several months, Iberdrola and Heritage Sustainable Energy of Traverse City have been securing wind rights leases in several townships in northern Kent and Ottawa counties. "In the Fruit Ridge area, we've leased somewhere in the vicinity of about 4,000 acres," said Rick Wilson, project coordinator for Heritage Sustainable Energy and its sister company, Wind Energy Partners. "We're in the very early stages of investigating the wind energy development potential in that area," added Wilson. The area includes about three of the townships on the Kent-Ottawa county line. Wilson said Heritage Sustainable Energy has not yet sought permits for erecting test towers but is planning to do so for one or two towers.

It turns out the high ground that makes the well-known Fruit Ridge area across northern Kent and Ottawa counties good for fruit-growing is also good for another kind of "farming" - commercial wind farms, where turbines on tall towers generate electricity.

Iberdrola Renewables of Spain, reportedly the world's largest wind farm developer, received permission in late April from Chester Township to start construction within 90 days of a test tower on a two-acre parcel it is leasing on 8th Avenue near Gooding Street, in northeast Ottawa County.

For at least several months, Iberdrola and Heritage Sustainable Energy of Traverse City have been securing wind rights leases in several townships in northern Kent and Ottawa counties.

"In the Fruit Ridge area, we've leased somewhere in the vicinity of about 4,000 acres," said Rick Wilson, project coordinator for Heritage Sustainable Energy and its sister company, Wind Energy Partners.

"We're in the very early stages of investigating the wind energy development potential in that area," added Wilson. The area includes about three of the townships on the Kent-Ottawa county line.

Wilson said Heritage Sustainable Energy... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

It turns out the high ground that makes the well-known Fruit Ridge area across northern Kent and Ottawa counties good for fruit-growing is also good for another kind of "farming" - commercial wind farms, where turbines on tall towers generate electricity.

Iberdrola Renewables of Spain, reportedly the world's largest wind farm developer, received permission in late April from Chester Township to start construction within 90 days of a test tower on a two-acre parcel it is leasing on 8th Avenue near Gooding Street, in northeast Ottawa County.

For at least several months, Iberdrola and Heritage Sustainable Energy of Traverse City have been securing wind rights leases in several townships in northern Kent and Ottawa counties.

"In the Fruit Ridge area, we've leased somewhere in the vicinity of about 4,000 acres," said Rick Wilson, project coordinator for Heritage Sustainable Energy and its sister company, Wind Energy Partners.

"We're in the very early stages of investigating the wind energy development potential in that area," added Wilson. The area includes about three of the townships on the Kent-Ottawa county line.

Wilson said Heritage Sustainable Energy has not yet sought permits for erecting test towers but is planning to do so for one or two towers.

Wilson said his company's practice is to lease the wind rights for a farmer's entire farm, which he estimates has been done with 15 or 20 farmers. He said Heritage has actually been active in northern Kent/Ottawa counties for two or three years.

Wilson said commercial generation of electricity with wind power is a "compatible use with agricultural land because, obviously, there is not a lot of conflicting uses of residential development."

Heritage has a commercial wind farm under construction in the McBain area in Missaukee County, the first phase of which will produce 20 megawatts. The first two 2.5 megawatt turbines will be installed this summer, each generating enough electricity for 700 to 800 homes, said Wilson. Those towers will be about 330 feet high, not counting the additional height of the turbine blades.

The test tower Iberdrola is putting up this spring will take less than two acres on the Harland and Jan Reister farm, according to Jan Reister. She said a representative from Iberdrola first contacted them in February.

Chester Township clerk Janice Redding said the permit the township board approved for the Reister farm specifies a meteorological tower (or "met tower") just under 200 feet in height, with equipment on top that will record wind velocity and direction, air pressure and temperature and other factors.

Met towers or test towers are generally used for at least 18 months to collect data that will determine if the site is feasible for commercial electrical generation.

Iberdrola has also leased land on a contingency basis from Sparta township farmer Dick Shephard for two additional test tower sites, one in Sparta and the other in Casnovia Township.

"They want straight-line winds. They don't want (wind farms) by forested areas or rolling hills because of wind turbulence. They want a straight, high ridge," said Shephard.

Paul Copleman, communications manager for Iberdrola Renewables in the Pennsylvania office, said the firm is the world's largest generator of electricity from wind, with 7,800 megawatts of installed power worldwide. It has 2,000 megawatts installed in the U.S., giving it the second largest installed capacity in this country, behind Florida Power & Light.

Shephard, 70, farms a total of about 1,000 acres with his son, Rick. He has been approached by both Iberdrola and Heritage about leasing his wind rights. However, Shephard said his land is covered by Public Act 116, the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program, in which he agreed to restrict future non-agricultural development of the land in return for reduced taxes. He said he is waiting to hear from the Michigan Department of Agriculture if wind farm use is allowed under PA 116.

Neither Shephard nor Reister is permitted to reveal how much they receive for leasing their wind rights, as specified in the terms of their agreements with Iberdrola. Wilson also declined to reveal how much Heritage pays to lease wind rights. He said that once a wind farm is built, the landowner is paid royalties based on the amount of electricity generated.

Mike Klepinger of the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources said his understanding is that landowners typically receive from $3,000 to $5,000 per year per megawatt. Based on that, a 20-megawatt wind farm might pay the landowner up to $100,000 per year.

Wilson said if Heritage builds a wind farm in northern Kent or Ottawa county, it would "probably" be a minimum of 50 megawatts of installed generation. BJX

 


Source: http://www.grbj.com/GRBJ/Ar...

MAY 12 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/14934-fruit-ridge-area-wind-farm-mecca
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