A new renewable energy portfolio standard passed by the Legislature last week will likely make for a greener Thumb.
RES Americas, based in Colorado, is one of the latest developers to take interest in generating wind energy on farm fields in Huron County.
Last week, the state Legislature passed bills that include a requirement that utilities get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind by 2015, about three times the current percentage.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm plans to sign the legislation soon; she has until Oct. 8, a spokeswoman said.
Bryan Starry, development manager with RES, said his company is in negotiations with landowners to site two wind-measuring towers and a number of turbines in four to five townships in the county.
Starry declined to get more specific, because of increased competition created by the recent passage of a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS.
“We’ve been working in the state for almost a year now,” in anticipation of an RPS, he said.
“It definitely creates a little bit more of a market for everybody.”
Starry said his company plans to measure wind speeds for at least a year before moving ahead on the project.
The findings will likely be good, based on a second wind project already under construction in the Thumb.
Noble Environmental Power, a Connecticutt-based firm, on Thursday was installing No. 9 of 46 windmills being erected for a wind energy park in Bingham and Sheridan townships near Ubly.
The development, pegged at more than $90 million, is near a 32-turbine Harvest Wind Farm that began producing electricity last year near Elkton.
There are published reports that the Noble park has been sold to John Deere Wind Energy, the same company that owns Harvest. A Noble official declined comment.
Traverse-City based Heritage Sustainable Energy, which is finishing up a two-turbine project near Cadillac, also is looking in the Thumb.
Rick Wilson, a Heritage project manager, said his company already has more than 40,000 acres under lease for turbines in Tuscola and Huron counties. One wind measuring tower has been installed in Tuscola and another will be going up soon in Huron, Wilson said.
He said he thinks the newly passed legislation will spark additional wind energy development throughout the state.
“We’re very encouraged that the state has taken that initiative and we’ll work closely with the utilities to help them meet their need,” he said.
“We’re kind of in friendly competition with other wind developers, but as a whole we look at it as an opportunity for all of us to bring renewable energy to Michigan.”
Russ Lundberg, Huron County building and zoning director, said he’s heard from DTE Energy officials, who also have land under lease for windmills, since passage of the RPS.
“Statewide, I think things will pop a little quicker now because there’s a future,” Lundberg said.
Midland Energy, a company that includes former Dow Chemical corporate energy manager Jerry Decker, has previously announced a project near Pigeon and Port Austin, with plans for erecting 120 windmills