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Michigan Wind Farm To Use Michigan Made Wind Turbines

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Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced a significant power purchase agreement between Consumers Energy and Traverse City-based Heritage Sustainable Energy that will result in the first large-scale production of utility-scale wind turbines fully made in Michigan. 

The agreement was celebrated today by the parties, together with wind turbine manufacturer Northern Power Systems and key supplier Merrill Technologies Group, at a press conference in Lansing. 

“Development of the wind energy sector is a key piece of Michigan’s strategy to diversify our economy and create clean energy jobs,” said Governor Granholm. “The agreement announced today helps to solidify the state’s emerging leadership in this industry.”

Northern Power Systems will build the direct drive wind turbines in its Saginaw plant, where it will employ up to 137 workers by 2014. 

The company also plans to use substantial supply chain resources in Michigan, including strategic supplier Merrill Technologies Group. 

The turbines will be shipped to Heritage Sustainable Energy’s wind farm in the Upper Peninsula’s Garden Peninsula, where 80 direct and indirect jobs will be created to support the project development, installation, and operation phases. Heritage Sustainable Energy will then sell the power it generates to Consumers Energy.       

“We now have an original equipment manufacturer planning to produce a significant number of top-of-the-line, utility-scale turbines right here in Michigan,” said Andrew S. Levin, acting director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth. “This deal is packed full of potential jobs — manufacturing jobs, construction jobs, technician jobs — and it will help reduce our reliance on foreign oil.”

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved the power purchase agreement for Consumers Energy Co. and Heritage Garden Wind Farm Nov. 19, the same date it approved another agreement between Consumers Energy and Heritage Sustainable Energy for another Michigan wind farm. The contracts are for 28.6 megawatts and 12.3 MW, respectively. Heritage Garden will be built in Delta County; Heritage Stoney Corners II will be built in Missaukee and Osceola counties. 

In October 2008, Granholm signed an energy law that calls for 10 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2015.

“Consumers Energy is expanding its renewable energy portfolio as part of a long-term strategy to provide value to its 1.8 million electric customers with a balanced energy strategy,” said Consumers Energy president and CEO John Russell. ” We’re making substantial investments in new renewable energy resources so we’ll be able to provide more ‘green’ energy to our customers, help the state’s environment, and create jobs at the same time.”

Added Martin Lagina, president and CEO of Heritage Sustainable Energy and a native of the UP’s Iron Mountain: “The Heritage Garden Wind Farm project exemplifies all of the intended goals of the state’s renewable energy standard: Michigan-based renewable energy generation supplied to Michigan utilities, investment in local economies via job creation, material purchases and an enhanced tax base; and investment in Michigan technology and manufacturing.”

Granholm used federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (federal stimulus) funds to help Michigan businesses diversify into high-growth, clean-energy industries through the Clean Energy Advanced Manufacturing program. Merrill Technologies Group was awarded $3 million through the program to purchase some of the equipment necessary for the manufacturing of large-scale wind turbines. During the last year, Merrill has created a supply chain of Michigan companies to manufacture turbine components, and is investing in full-scale production for other projects. The CEAM dollars provided an incentive for private investment by Michigan companies.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Michigan is projected to create more than 30,000 jobs in the wind manufacturing sector alone. Research by DELEG indicates the state could potentially generate 16,564 MW of power on land, and an additional 448,756 MW offshore. Many of the challenges of traditional offshore wind, such as tides, strong currents and saltwater, do not exist in the Great Lakes.

For more information about DELEG, please visit www.michigan.gov/deleg

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