Jackson-based Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest renewable energy provider, said it received approval July 7 from the Mason County Planning Commission of the utility’s special land use permit application for its first wind park – the 100 megawatt Lake Winds Energy Park.

“While we are still reviewing the terms and conditions of the Planning Commission’s approval, we look forward to building a wind park that benefits Mason County residents, farmers and businesses, and provides economic value and renewable energy to Michigan and our customers,” said Jack Hanson, senior vice president of generation and energy supply for Consumers Energy.

The wind park is enabled by Michigan’s Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act of 2008. This green energy project will be constructed as part of Consumers Energy’s plans to meet a 10 percent renewable energy standard in that law.  The Lake Winds Energy Park will produce enough electricity to meet the annual power needs of more than 31,000 residential customers.

The special land use application included detailed site layouts for 56 wind turbines, as well as three alternate locations.  All of the turbine locations received previous approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, Michigan Aeronautic Commission, and the Mason County Airport Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Lake Winds facility is expected to provide Mason County taxing units with an additional $29 million in property tax revenue over the first 20 years of operation.  Current property tax payments by Consumers Energy to Mason County taxing units are about $6 million per year.

Construction of the wind park is expected to generate direct and indirect economic benefits in Mason County valued at $33 million, according to a study prepared for Consumers Energy. In addition, the Lake Winds Energy Park is expected to require about 12 full-time operation positions.

Consumers Energy previously announced its selection of the Vestas V100-1.8 MW wind turbine for this project, which is the most efficient turbine for this region’s wind speeds.   Separately, the utility previously announced its selection of White Construction, Inc. to build Lake Winds.

Wind generation is a major part of Consumers Energy’s Balanced Energy Initiative, a 20-year plan to meet the power needs of the utility’s 1.8 million electric customers with a balanced energy portfolio, including energy efficiency, renewable energy and customer demand management. The utility will also continue development in Tuscola County of its 150-megawatt Cross Winds Energy Park, scheduled for operation by late 2014.

Consumers Energy is the largest supplier of renewable energy in Michigan.  About 5 percent of the electricity the utility provides to customers comes from renewable sources in the state.  By the end of 2012, including the expected addition of Lake Winds, about 8 percent of the power that the utility supplies to customers is expected to come from Michigan renewable sources.

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

More at www.consumersenergy.com.

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