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Muskegon County seeking developers to build wind farm

Creative Commons

Right now, the county rotates growing corn, soybeans and alfalfa on a giant, 11,000 acre plot of land where their waste water treatment plant is. They hope to lease out the land in order to add wind farming to the mix.

Mark Eisenbarth directs Muskegon County’s Wastewater Management System. He says they hope to build up to 75 commercial-sized wind turbines on the site. Eisenbarth says there are dozens of municipalities in Michigan with small turbines or even a handful of large ones. But he says this project will be unique.

“To actually get into a wind project where you’re actually creating 75 to 100 megawatts, we are not aware of any municipality, I’m not saying there’s not any, but I have not seen any yet.”

Muskegon County is soliciting proposals to create a wind farm that would generate between 75 and 100 megawatts. They expect to begin reviewing those proposals by May.

Site advantages

  • The location sits less than 15 miles away from the Lake Michigan shoreline. Eisenhower says they’ve been testing the wind for years; at heights up to 200 feet.
  • The county is the single owner of the entire property so developers don’t have to worry about land acquisition.
  • The area is very rural. Eisenbarth says there are very few people living in the direct area that would be affected by shadow flicker and noise.
  • Transmission lines needed to funnel the power into the electric grid run through the property.

It’ll cost between $200 and $300 million dollars to build. Eisenbarth says they’re encouraging developers to consider using local businesses that have been interested in the project for years.

“Those who include local manufacturers and suppliers will definitely get a second or a third look just to see what they’re actually offering us.”

Eisenbarth says it’s unclear how much revenue the county will receive from leasing the land yet.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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