Consumers Energy’s Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County has taken another step forward with the signing of two major construction and supply contracts.  The utility’s first wind park is scheduled to begin operation in late 2012.  Consumers Energy has filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission for approval of these contracts, as well as the previously-announced Vestas turbine purchase agreement.

Consumers Energy has signed a contract for the balance of plant engineering, procurement and construction services with one of North America’s leading wind park builders, White Construction Inc. White Construction has built more than 4,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity across North America. Under this contract, the majority of construction jobs and material purchases will be sourced from within Michigan.  A typical wind park project involves about 150 construction jobs.

READ MORE: Public Transit Gets Huge Boost From Federal Grants

Consumers Energy also signed a contract with GE-Prolec Transformers Inc. to provide electric transformers for a new substation that will serve the Lake Winds Energy Park.  

Consumers Energy plans to release a study about the financial benefits of the Lake Winds Energy Park early in 2011. That study will detail the economic impact of the wind park, including estimated tax payments.

“We … appreciate the ongoing work by the Mason County Board of Commissioners, the planning and zoning department, the planning commission, and other key local and state agencies in support of this project,” said Linda Hilbert, manager of renewable energy projects for Consumers Energy.

The contracts were competitively bid and are contingent upon approval by the MPSC.  The wind park also requires a special land use permit from Mason County. 

READ MORE: Safety Is Top Priority As Parents, Students Prepare For Upcoming School Year

Wind generation is a major part of Consumers Energy’s Balanced Energy Initiative, a comprehensive 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 has secured easements for about 79,000 acres for wind farm development in Mason County and on the state’s east side in Tuscola and Huron counties.

Consumers Energy is the largest supplier of renewable energy in the state.  Five percent of the electricity the utility provides to customers comes from renewable sources in Michigan.  By the end of 2012, including the addition of its Lake Winds Energy Park, about eight 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 nearly 6.5 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

For more information about Consumers Energy, visit

MORE NEWS: Donations Needed For Landfill Search To Find Zion Foster

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.