wind energy

Environment
9:01 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Measuring wind energy off the Lake Michigan shore

Buoy on July 9, 2012
Leah Zuber Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center

Scientists are analyzing new data that’ll determine whether offshore wind farms are viable in Lake Michigan and the data is more detailed than any available from the Great Lakes so far.

A floating eight-ton research buoy is collecting the data. There are only three such vessels in the world and this is the first one launched in the United States.

The buoy has been anchored about 37 miles off shore for about two months now. Recently crews retrieved the first set of data cards – with information about wind conditions and any bats and birds that fly by. Scientists are now analyzing that data.

Arn Boezaart heads the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center that’s operating the buoy. "I think we are getting data at this point that will be very useful and will validate the fact that the wind conditions at mid-lake are very promising for potential future use as a commercially viable wind source," Boezaart says.

But right now there is no clear path to proposing an offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes inside the Michigan border.

energy
5:46 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

City of Holland decides winds not strong enough for wind farm

warrenski Creative Commons

The City of Holland is backing out of plans for a potential wind farm. The city-owned utility bought the option to lease hundreds of acres in Allegan County after the state identified the area as one of the best in Michigan for wind energy potential.

But after more than a year of serious study, the city doesn’t think there’s enough potential to build the wind farm.

“When we went into this, everything looked like it was going to be a good project to pursue,” said Dan Nally, who directs business services for Holland’s Board of Public Works.

"We shouldn’t take the fact that this project doesn’t go forward that we are not supporting renewable, because we absolutely, positively are. But we will also, at the same time, get the best value that we can,” Nally said.

The wind was good, but not as strong as they had hoped. The plan was to have a 20 mega-watt wind farm-- relatively small compared to large scale commercial projects.

Nally says the utility has spent roughly $678,000 to collect wind data and study the impact on birds, bats and wetlands.

"We don’t feel that any of this money has been wasted. It’s been an investment in understanding what we could and could not do,” Nally said.

Nally says Holland is working on agreements to purchase renewable power from other wind farms, but he declined to give details until any agreement is negotiated.

Holland and all other utilities in Michigan must have 10 percent of their energy come from renewable sources like wind by 2015. Nally says Holland is still on track to meet that requirement.

Economy
10:53 am
Sat June 23, 2012

Debate over renewable energy ballot issue heats up in Michigan

Solar? Wind? Geothermal? Oil? Coal? Natural Gas? What's the solution to Michigan's future energy needs? Or, is the real question, How much of each?
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Supporters say a ballot measure requiring that utilities get more of their electricity from renewable sources would make Michigan a leader in clean energy and create jobs.

Opponents say it would cost electric customers more money and make it harder to provide reliable energy.

On Monday, opponents with the Clean Affordable Renewable Energy (CARE) for Michigan Coalition plan to ramp up statewide efforts to defeat the issue. They argue the requirement doesn't belong in the state constitution.

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The Environment Report
6:39 am
Tue May 22, 2012

25 x '25: Creating a new renewable energy standard for Michigan

Green Energy Futures Flickr

The Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs coalition wants to increase the state’s renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025.

That would mean that a quarter of all the energy used in Michigan would come from renewable sources like the wind and sun.

The coalition is trying to collect enough signatures to put the issue before voters in November. They'll need to collect a minimum of 322,609 valid signatures by July 9th, 2012. Organizers say their goal is to turn in 500,000 signatures.

And, interestingly enough, the proposal is getting support from both Democrats and Republicans.

Steve Linder is President of Sterling Corporation, a Republican consulting firm. He says his organization is behind the proposal for business reasons. “While we don’t like government mandates, this allows us to use manufacturing capacity in Michigan rather than bringing in $1.6 billion worth of coal from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. So, this is really a business to business ballot initiative and we are very comfortable in making the business and economic case that this keeps dollars in our state and it keeps us at the cutting age of new types of manufacturing technology,” Linder says.

Mark Fisk, a Democrat, is co-partner of Byrum & Fisk, a political consulting firm. He says he’s working on behalf of the initiative because of the jobs it’ll bring to the state and the environmental benefits of renewable energy. “This initiative will create thousands of new Michigan jobs and help boost Michigan’s economy by building a clean energy industry right here in our state. And, it gives Michigan cleaner and healthier air and water. It’ll protect our Great Lakes, reduce asthma and lung disease, and ultimately save lives,” Fisk says.

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Environment & Science
4:00 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Mid Michigan officials consider large wind farm

A wind farm in Huron County
michigan.gov

Officials in Eaton County are considering a proposal that would see the construction of several dozen wind turbines.

The plan from Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC would create a 63-turbine wind farm and, as the Lansing State Journal reports, the Oneida Township Planning Commission is looking into amending zoning restrictions to accommodate the project.

More from the Journal:

Approval of the ordinance changes are under review because the turbines are not currently regulated by the ordinance...The draft ordinance covers placement, maximum size, setback requirements and eventual removal requirements for wind turbine towers, and also regulates noise and electromagnetic interference.

Based on applications filed with the Federal Aviation Authority, each wind turbine is expected to be nearly 500 feet tall from the ground to the tip of the blades, and would be located within a 42 square mile area.

While the proposed wind farm could provide power for up to 30,000 homes, the Lansing State Journal writes that the plan does face some opposition, including from the advisory board of the Grand Ledge Abrams Municipal Airport, which cites concerns about increased air turbulence in the area. 

Even if the plan is approved, actual construction would depend on the results of wind studies in the area, a process that could take up to a year.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Environment
4:01 pm
Sat April 28, 2012

Wind turbines to add power to Lansing city hall

Three wind turbines sit in front of Lansing city hall. In the coming weeks, the turbines will be installed on building's roof, as part of a test of their ability to economically generate electricity.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The city of Lansing is turning to a new source for its electric power.

"Thank you all for joining us on this breezy, lovely day in downtown Lansing…perfect for the announcement that we’re here to make," [Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero joked, as high winds spun three small scale wind turbines on the plaza in front of Lansing city hall.    The turbines are part of a one year trial.

John DeGray is with Windstream Technologies, an Indiana company developing  small corkscrew shaped wind turbines for residential and business use.

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energy
9:45 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Floating wind farm in the Great Lakes?

An underwater simulation of a PellaStar offshore wind turbine.
The Glosten Associates

One major investor could make all the difference for a group hoping to test a prototype of a floating offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes. The group needs about $3 million to apply for a federal matching grant to support testing the floating wind farm concept.

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Environment
12:48 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

One death blamed on yesterday's winds, crews work to restore power

A downed tree in Ann Arbor.
Mike Perini Michigan Radio

Winds whipping across the state yesterday with gusts of up to 55 mph brought down big trees and downed power lines.

The Associated Press reports the winds caused the death of a women in Van Buren County when a tree hit her van.

And the Lansing State Journal reports on an injury to a second grader:

Strong winds knocked a tree down onto a second-grader during recess at DeWitt’s Schavey Road Elementary Monday, school officials confirmed today.The student was taken to the hospital and is recovering, said Superintendent John Deiter.

Today, crews are working to bring power back to homes and businesses. An estimated 38,000 customers are without power.

More from the Associated Press:

DTE Energy Co. says that about 31,000 of its 106,000 electrical customers that lost power due to Monday's winds are without service early Tuesday. And CMS Energy Corp. says that about 7,000 of its
96,000 affected Consumers Energy customers are powerless as of Tuesday morning.

The winds caused the death of a woman when a tree hit her van in Van Buren County's Bloomingdale Township.

Environment
4:07 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Winds whipping up big waves, causing power outages in Michigan

Waves are reaching up to ten feet in parts of Lake Michigan today.
NOAA

Today's real-time Wind Map is showing some strong northeasterly winds flowing across Michigan's Lower Peninsula, and southeasterly winds across the U.P.

There's a gale warning in effect until midnight in the open water forecast for Lake Michigan where waves of 8 to 12 feet are a possible. The map above is showing waves of around 9 to 10 feet.

The Associated Press reports on winds gusts topping 50 mph in parts of the state "knocking down some trees and threatening the possibility of other damage."

The National Weather Service issued wind advisories for the Lower Peninsula and parts of the Upper Peninsula. Temperatures were expected to drop in northern Michigan, bringing with it the possibility of snow and ice. Snow accumulations of a few inches are possible in the western Upper Peninsula.

The Grand Rapids Press reports on power outages in West Michigan:

More than 10,300 Consumers Energy customers in West Michigan are without power this afternoon because of strong winds, according to a spokesman for the utility.

And the winds coming off of Lake Michigan near Ludington caused damage. The Ludington Daily News reported on power outages with winds that gusted to 49 mph.

Consumers Energy reported 116 customers without power in Mason County and 236 customers without power in Oceana County. Consumers Energy spokesman Tim Pietryga said there were about 5,600 customers without power at 9 a.m. today, most of them along Lake Michigan.

Environment
12:14 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Michigan State University commits to green energy (but not enough for some)

Not going anywhere soon. MSU's T.B. Simon power plant will continue to provide electricity for the East Lansing campus for years to come
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has approved a plan that will increase the East Lansing campus’ reliance on renewable energy sources.

The plan approved this morning will require MSU to get 40 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and other alternative energy sources by 2030. Renewables account for about two percent of MSU’s power right now.

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Environment
11:39 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Michigan State University Trustees expected to vote on energy plan

MSU's T.B. Simon Power Plant
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Michigan State University is in the midst of a debate over how much the school  can rely on alternative energy sources to power its East Lansing campus.   

The university’s Board of Trustees meets Friday to vote on an energy plan for MSU. 

Earlier this week, MSU students used a giant inflatable inhaler to dramatize their concerns about the university’s large coal fired power plant located just south of campus. 

The students want MSU to commit to turning completely to wind, solar and other alternative energy sources for the university’s electricity needs.

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Environment
5:21 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

The way the wind blows

screencap of Michigan's current surface winds hint.fm/wind/index.html

Looking for a strong visual argument for the untapped potential of wind power in the Great Lakes? Wondering why it's been rather blustery the last few days?

NPR science correspondent and Radiolab co-host Robert Krulwich might have found just the thing you're looking for (or at least something guaranteed to keep you mesmerized by your internet browser for a while).

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energy
4:10 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Buoy that could determine viability of offshore wind farm to head back out to Lake Michigan

The wind buoy sits on a pier in Muskegon before it first launched back in October 2011.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Wednesday state regulators and researchers will head about 35 miles west of Muskegon, near the Michigan-Wisconsin border in Lake Michigan. There they’ll survey the bottom of Lake Michigan to make sure there are no historic artifacts in the way when a floating research platform drops anchor there (likely) later this week.

Arn Boezaart heads the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center. Last year the center operated the buoy only 4 miles offshore. This year it’ll collect first of its kind data that’ll likely determine whether an offshore wind farm is viable in the middle of Lake Michigan.

Boezaart says there was a lot more interest in offshore wind data when the project began two-and-a-half years ago.

“The times have changed, the political winds have changed. So we’re just minding our business and going forward with the research work that we’re charged to do," Boeazart said. “We’ll let other people figure out how the public policy questions and politics of this play out.”

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Environment
5:12 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Michigan and 4 other states join feds to push for Great Lakes wind farms

A wind farm off the coast of Sweden
Mariusz Paździora wikimedia commons

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Federal officials say a deal to speed up consideration of proposed offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes should cut red tape and open the way for more clean energy production.

Officials announced the agreement Friday between the federal government and Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania.

There are no wind turbines in the Great Lakes now. But one project is in the works for Lake Erie.

Nancy Sutley of the White House Council on Environmental Quality said there's "tremendous" potential for wind energy development in the region. She said it's hard to know when other offshore wind proposals may arise, but government agencies should have an efficient system in place to evaluate them.

Environment
11:05 am
Tue March 13, 2012

Small wind project in northern Michigan faces hurdles

Steve Smiley, project manager for the Northport turbine, on the ridge where the windmill will be built.
Photo by Bob Allen/Interlochen Public Radio

by Bob Allen for The Environment Report

Big wind farms generate not just power but a lot of controversy. There’s been quite a debate in northern Michigan recently about the effects on safety, health, property values and the landscape. Smaller scale projects called community wind are designed to avoid those criticisms. But there are still roadblocks.

Northport is a picturesque village that sits near the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. For the past two years, a group of residents there, mostly retirees, has been working to put up one small wind turbine.

Doug McInnis says the opportunity just about fell into their laps.

“There was this unique spot. There was a hill. And it’s near right where you want to put the energy. We’re right near a substation. I mean all these things come together and it just says, hey, this is a natural.”

The village owns the hill that rises just behind its new sewage treatment plant. From the hilltop, the turbine will supply half the electricity for the plant. It will be a fraction of the size of new commercial turbines.

State maps show that Leelanau Township has the best sites for wind energy in the Lower Peninsula.

McInnis says the group wants to do something now that will benefit their community for years to come.

“People are concerned about the future generations. And if we don’t start thinking and moving in other directions I don’t know what’s going to happen. It ain’t gonna be good.”

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Environment
10:49 am
Thu January 26, 2012

A Michigan company in the State of the Union spotlight

When President Obama talked to the nation this week, he pointed out a guy from Michigan in the audience.

“When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession the factory only made luxury yachts. Today it’s hiring workers like Bryan who said I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future.”

Last spring, Energetx Composites expected to increase its workforce from 40 employees to 300 sometime in 2012. We wanted to check in to see how things are going.

Chris Idema works in business development for the Holland-based company.

“You know, I can’t really comment on a specific number but we are definitely in growth mode right now, we are hiring and we expect to do so over the next several months.”

He says the biggest obstacle to his company’s growth is uncertainty in the market. Idema points to a federal tax credit that he says gives the wind industry some stability. That credit expires at the end of this year. It’s not clear what Congress will do about it.

energy
10:45 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Wind farm in Mason County taking shape despite legal challenge

Consumers Energy map of the Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County. Construction of access roads and turbine bases began in November 2011.
Consumers Energy lakewindsenergypark.com

Consumers Energy is wrapping up the initial phase of its first wind farm. Construction of the 100 mega-watt farm began last fall. Consumers plans to have the wind farm operating by the end of this year.

The project is known as the Lake Winds Energy Park. Since construction began last fall, workers have built about half of the large bases for 58 utility sized wind turbines.

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Environment
8:42 am
Mon January 16, 2012

Proposed amendment would ratchet up renewable power mandate

user vaxomatic flickr

A coalition of business, labor and agriculture groups is backing a ballot campaign to boost the state’s renewable energy mandate.

Michigan utilities are already required to get 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2015. The proposed constitutional amendment would boost that to 25 percent, by 2025.

"There’s 20 other states that include and Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa that have already adopted measures similar to the initiative, without significant increase in utility costs for consumers," said campaign spokesman Mark Fisk.

A spokesman for DTE Energy says it would be difficult to comply with the 25 percent mandate without a significant increase in rates. The proposed ballot language says utilities could not increase rates by more than one percent a year to comply with the mandate.

A state elections board is expected to decide whether to approve the ballot language this week.

Environment
9:47 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

High-tech research buoy gathers lots of offshore wind data, but future funding is uncertain

The yellow research buoy pictured by NOAA's live webcam on January 9th, 2012. The buoy will still collect wind data from this location before heading back out to the middle of Lake Michigan in early March.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

An 8-ton research buoy that’s been floating around Lake Michigan collecting detailed data about wind conditions offshore has been brought back on land for the winter.  With the mild winter the buoy stayed about four miles offshore for twice as long as researchers expected; 58 days instead of 30. 

Turning data over to researchers

Arn Boezaart heads the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center that’s operating the buoy from Muskegon. He’s been able to see 10 minute averages of wind conditions in real time. But now that the buoy is back on land, he’s got data cards with wind data for every second the buoy was out there; plus data on bats and birds that flew by.

 “I literally keep looking at this plastic bag in my brief case with this data card sitting in it and thinking ‘people don’t realize how valuable this is,” Boezaart said. “I sort of feel like I’m carrying gold bars in my case here. This is really first of its kind data.”

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Economy
9:28 pm
Sat December 31, 2011

Northern Michigan dispute over wind farm may land in court

Consumers Energy wind farm in Ubly, Michigan
(courtesy Consumers Energy)
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