Wind farm readies for completion
GARDEN – Fourteen windmills now stand erect on the Garden Peninsula – part of the Heritage Garden Wind Farm Project that has been underway for over a year. According to a company official, the windmills will be fully operational by the weekend.
The Garden Wind Farm began with only one windmill, operational since spring. However, over the summer, the Heritage Sustainable Energy company has been busily dotting their approximately 10,000 acres of leased land throughout the Garden Peninsula with the remainder of the 295-foot wind turbines.
“All of the windmills have been installed, and right now, we are in the commissioning phase of the project, so the turbines are being connected to the grid, and powered up,” said Rick Wilson, Heritage vice president. “There’s always little bugs that seem to occur, just because they’re new machines, but aside from those little things that might occur, we’ll be 100 percent operational by this weekend.”
With one operational turbine in place since spring, Wilson said the company has been able to gather even more data about the peninsula’s wind power potential.
“We have expected and gotten good results from the production based upon the wind that we’ve experienced up in that area,” he said.
Once all turbines are operational, Wilson explained the power generated would then be placed on a grid and sold to Consumer’s Energy. The turbines, each capable of producing 2 megawatts, are expected to produce over 70,000 megawatt hours of energy each year. This, according to Heritage calculations, would be enough to power 7,000 households, or 45 percent of Delta County homes.
During the process of installation and construction, Wilson noted the project had a significant impact on the local economy. According to Heritage, over $10 million went into the local economy, and over 40 local and regional U.P. businesses were utilized during the process.
A few minor delays were experienced during the project, Wilson noted, one recently.
“One of the rigging tools to lift the rotor … was not working properly, so we had a slight delay because of that, until we got the right configuration,” he said. “Nothing was ever damaged, and there was no concern, it just caused a delay.”
As far as resident concerns, Wilson said the company has had, primarily, a positive experience in the area.
“We have not had any (concerns) recently,” he said. “We’ve set up an office in Garden, right in the downtown village of Garden, and people are welcome to stop by and ask questions or voice any concerns they might have.”
The office will remain even after the final stages are complete, Wilson added, and a staff member will be available to the public during regular business hours. In addition, he added service personal will also be working out of the Garden office. Five full time employees are expected to work in the office, and some others, as circumstances require, Wilson said.
“Periodically … just for various service elements needed for the wind farm, there’s often some third party contractor that’s usually in the area for one reason or another,” he explained.
All in all, Wilson said the entire construction project went smoothly, with community support a key factor in the progress.
“We’ve had good interaction with the community during a really busy summer, and we do appreciate the community supporting us and a lot of additional truck traffic and the things that go along with a relatively large construction project,” he said. “We appreciate the community feedback we’ve gotten with that and look forward to being a strong part of the Garden community.”