EAST LANSING (WWJ) — Wind power in Michigan has become a big business.
The state is about to join the elite “Gigawatt Club,” being one of only a handful of states to generate more than a billion watts of electricity from wind power. More than 40 companies in the wind industry now employ more than 3,000 Michiganders. Hundreds of wind turbines dot several major Michigan wind farms, where millions of dollars have been spent on new power lines to carry that electricity to power-hungry cities.
It’s all a heck of a long way from 1995, when the municipal utility Traverse City Light & Power installed the first commercial-scale wind generator in Michigan on a lonely field along M-72, generating a measly 600 kilowatts.
Monday’s meeting of the American Wind Energy Association – Michigan, attended by about 100 people, was partly a celebration of that success — and partly an exploration of what’s next for wind power in Michigan, now that the state’s landmark legislation mandating that Michigan utilities generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015 is nearing full effect.