Muskegon County has reached an agreement with developers to build a large-scale wind farm at its waste water treatment plant. The 11,000 acre site sits less than 15 miles away from the Lake Michigan shoreline. The county also rotates growing corn, soybeans and alfalfa on the land. This week the county board agreed to lease the plot to add wind farming to the mix.
“We feel like we’ve got a good contract but we have a lot of hurdles to get over before we see any construction here,” Muskegon County’s Wastewater Management System Director Mark Eisenbarth said, “And any one of those hurdles could slow down or derail the project.”
The big hurdles are studying the wind farm’s impact on the environment, finding a power company to buy the electricity and setting up to access transmission lines that could get power into the grid. Eisenbarth said the contract the county agreed to this week will allow Muskegon Wind LLC (joint venture between Gamesa Energy USA LLC and Scandia Wind Offshore LLC) to lease the land and put up commercial-sized wind turbines on the site.
It could cost between $200 and $300 million dollars to build the wind farm. The wind farm would generate up to 100 megawatts; up to 75 turbines.
“It’s a long process and it took us seven years to get to this point,” Eisenbarth chuckled, “Hopefully the next seven will be more productive.”
If the farm goes up, Muskegon County would get a portion of the money the company makes off the electricity. It would collect money for each acre the company leases. If everything goes smoothly, construction could begin in three or four years.
The agreement is on page 13 and 14 of the Muskegon County Commission meeting minutes.