Ewald’s fields are typically filled by rows of sugar beets, corn, wheat and many types of beans, but more recently they are also home to 15 elegantly spinning machines that are part of the Cross Winds® Energy Park. Consumers Energy started development of the wind farm in 2013, which now provides enough electricity to power about 30,000 homes with 62 turbines that are spread across 51,000 acres. While harnessing the power of winds to generate electricity has been around since the late 1800’s, recent technological improvements have established wind as the fastest growing power source in the United States.
According to Susan Sloan, vice president of state policy for AWEA, Michigan is a hub for wind power manufacturing, with nearly 40 facilities making parts across the state. She adds that, in total, wind power has attracted $2.3 billion in capital investment to Michigan and has provided jobs for up to 3,000 local workers. “By continuing to invest and grow wind in the state,” Sloan says, “Michigan will continue to see these economic benefits for years to come.” Consumers Energy’s Cross Winds® Energy Park, for example, has benefited the local economy by providing around 150 construction jobs.
Cross Winds® also offers a new kind of revenue for landowners like Ewald, who had never thought he’d welcome windy days. “Ten years ago, harvesting the wind to generate another income stream was about the farthest thing from my mind,” he says. “It certainly feels great to be a contributor to a renewable energy source like wind.”