Renewable Energy

Ubly Wind Farm Located in Ubly MichiganExpanding renewable energy is part of Consumers Energy’s Clean Energy Plan, a comprehensive plan to meet the energy needs of customers for the next 20 years.

Environmentally friendly and naturally replenished, renewable energy is produced by resources such as wind, biomass, landfill gas, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric plants.

Today, about 5 percent of the electricity that Consumers Energy provides to customers comes from renewable resources. Hydroelectric and waste wood make up the bulk of our renewable energy portfolio, while wind and biomass also are included in the mix. By 2015, we plan to increase the renewable power supplied to customers to 10 percent.

Lake Winds Energy Park

Consumers Energy plans to begin operating Mason County's Lake WindsTM Energy Park by the end of 2012.  The utility has signed two major construction and supply contracts.  The Michigan Public Service Commission approved these contracts, as well as the previously-announced Vestas turbine purchase agreement.
  
Consumers Energy received approval of its Special Land Use Permit with Mason County for the Lake WindsTM Energy Park in 2011. Some of the key documents from the permit application include:

Economic Impact  
Consumers Energy’s plans for new wind energy supplies represent an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in Michigan’s infrastructure. The new wind farm facilities also are expected to create thousands of dollars in new tax revenue for the areas where they are located plus bring other economic benefits.

For more information on Harnessing a New Generation of Wind Power for Michigan,  view the wind generation fact sheet  or individual topics:

Cross Winds Energy Park

Consumers Energy will select a Balance of Plant Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor for the Cross WindsTM Energy Park in Tuscola County, Michigan.  Consumers Energy has received inquiries from various companies regarding the possibility of being a subcontractor or supplier for the EPC work.  Details of this process will be announced at a later date. The successful EPC bidder will select and engage its applicable subcontractors and suppliers.  However, if a prospective subcontractor or supplier desires to have Consumers Energy forward its contact information to successful EPC bidder, such company may send its contact information to Consumers Energy at info@newgenmichigan.com.

Renewable Energy Pioneer

Electric power was pioneered in Michigan along its idyllic rivers, and today we continue to operate 13 hydroelectric plants on five waterways. Built between 1906 and 1935, these historic and consistent contributors helped pioneer renewable energy in Michigan. With a combined generating capacity of about 130 megawatts, they can serve about 70,000 people.

Since 2001, Consumers Energy has offered customers an opportunity to support the development of renewable energy in Michigan through a program known today as Green Generation. In 2008, almost 13,000 customers were enrolled in the environmentally friendly renewable energy program.

“Customers are switched on to a brighter future by voting for renewable green generation to power homes and businesses,” said Commissioner Monica Martinez, of the Michigan Public Service Commission.  “The result is a Michigan that is cleaner and less dependent on fossil fuels for its electricity.”

Harnessing a New Generation of Wind Power for Michigan

The Proposal 

A balanced use of energy resources is central to Consumers Energy’s commitment to Michigan’s future.  With this in mind, the company plans to supplement its existing electric generation capability with up to 3,600 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable energy per year.

A significant amount of this new renewable energy supply will come from wind-generation installations or “wind farms.” Consumers Energy estimates it will need an additional 900 megawatts of renewable energy by 2017. Consumers Energy will build new renewable energy projects for half of this, and purchase renewable energy from third-party producers to meet the other half.

Together, the additional sources of “green” power will increase Consumers Energy’s renewable energy supply from about 5 percent today to 10 percent by 2015 as outlined in the utility’s Balanced Energy Initiative, developed in response to the state’s 21st Century Energy Plan.

Wind farm Concept and Technology 

Just as conventional fossil-fueled power facilities with several generating units can operate from a single site, wind-generation operations also are contained in distinct locations. 

A 100-megawatt (MW) wind farm, for example, typically includes 40 to 100 individual wind turbines clustered in a distinct area. Consumers Energy proposes to build two wind farms. A typical wind turbine can generate enough electricity to power 400 homes or more. 

Wind turbine towers generally stand between 260 and 330 feet tall. Each turbine blade is about 150 feet long.  For the end user, wind power is indistinguishable from power generated from conventional generating sources.   The wind farm’s output is fed into the electric transmission system along with power from conventional sources and ultimately distributed to customers’ homes and businesses.

Variations in output due to fluctuating weather conditions — low wind or no wind days — are managed by the utility’s load-balancing procedures.  The customer notices no difference in electric service.

Wind Farm Sites 

Consumers Energy completed an evaluation of potential wind farm sites across the state, with a focus on:

  • Locations that have the best wind speed and direction
  • Local ordinances that favor or don’t discourage wind energy development
  • Access to the state’s electric transmission system
  • Minimal impact on the surrounding area

In Michigan, many of the optimal sites are located in agricultural and other rural areas. In addition to growing crops, Michigan farmers also will have an opportunity to harvest clean, renewable energy to meet future energy needs and help improve the environment. To date, Consumers Energy has secured more than 80,000 acres of easements in Mason, Tuscola and Huron counties to build and operate wind generation farms.  The company set up 10 meteorological towers — six in Mason and four in Tuscola — to gather data such as wind speed and direction to help determine the best locations to place wind turbines. Consumers Energy plans to begin operating Mason County's Lake WindsTM Energy Park by the end of 2012.  The first 150-megawats wind farm, Cross WindsTM Energy Park will be located in Tuscola County, and is slated to start operating in 2015. Another 100-megawatt wind farm will be established in Tuscola or Huron county by 2022.

The designs for Consumers Energy wind farms will be in accordance with local zoning, permitting and building codes, as well as comply with all applicable federal, state and local requirements to protect human health and the environment.

Harvesting Wind Energy

Consumers Energy plans to build 100 megawatts of wind generation for commercial operation in late 2012; 150 megawatts for commercial operation in 2015; and 100 megawatts for commercial operation in 2022.

Consumers Energy signed a contract with Vestas-American Wind Technology, Inc. to supply 56 V100-1.8 MW wind turbine generators for the utility’s Lake WindsTM Energy Park in Mason County.

Later in 2010, Consumers Energy selected White Construction, Inc. as its Balance of Plant Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors for construction of the 100-megawatt Lake WindsTM Energy Park in Mason County.

The company expects to issue Requests for Proposals for wind turbines and the  EPC contractor for Cross Winds Energy Park in late 2012 or early 2013.
  

Clean Energy Plan 

Developed in response to Michigan’s 21st Century Energy Plan released in January 2007, Consumers Energy’s Clean energy Plan provides a comprehensive framework to meet the energy needs of the company’s 1.8 million electric customers for the next 20 years.

The plan calls for meeting the growing electric needs of customers through:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Demand management
  • Expanding renewable energy
  • Utilizing existing generating resources

Public and Environmental Impacts 

The company will comply with all applicable federal, state and local requirements to protect human health and the environment.

Cleaner Air 

Consumers Energy is working hard to meet future environmental regulations while also bringing competitively priced electricity to customers to help spur Michigan’s economic recovery.

Studies show Michigan’s air is the cleanest it has been in the modern era. Between now and 2017, Consumers Energy will invest more than $1.6 billion at its existing coal-fired plants to further control emissions.

Consumers Energy has reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 80 percent and nitrogen oxides emissions by 70 percent from previous levels at its coal-fired power plants.

The company will continue its voluntary management program to cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Including wind energy in its Balanced Energy Initiative will allow Consumers Energy to further improve Michigan’s air quality.

Economic Impact 

Consumers Energy’s plans for new wind energy supplies represent an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in Michigan’s infrastructure. The new wind farm facilities also are expected to create thousands of dollars in new tax revenue for the areas where they are located plus bring other economic benefits.

Lake Winds Energy Park Economic Impact Study