Wind Energy Resource Zone Board Submits Final Report

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DETROIT, October 16, 2009 – The Wind Energy Resource Zone Board today issued its final report, identifying the four regions in Michigan with the highest level of wind energy harvest potential. The report, which looked only at commercial or utility-scale wind energy on land, was submitted to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

The final report incorporated the concerns of people who submitted comments by mail or via electronic mail and in person at the two public hearings held in Bad Axe and Scottville. It identifies the same four regions with the highest level of wind energy harvest potential as in the proposed report issued on June 2.

“I am pleased to submit the board’s final report to the MPSC,” said board chairman David Walters. “The board has spent a considerable amount of time analyzing where Michigan’s greatest potential lies for wind energy projects. During the public comment period, including both public hearings, we heard comments both pro and con about issues related to wind energy. We acknowledged those comments and concerns in the final report, and are grateful for the public’s input.”

The 11-member board was appointed by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on Dec. 4, 2008, as required by Public Act 295 of 2008, also known as the Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act. Its proposed report presented its preliminary findings related to:

  • A list of regions in the state with the highest level of wind energy harvest potential
  • A description of the estimated maximum and minimum wind generating capacity in megawatts that can be installed in each identified region
  • An estimate of the annual maximum and minimum energy production potential for each identified region
  • An estimate of the maximum wind generation capacity already in service in each identified region

The proposed and final reports identified the same four regions all located in the Lower Peninsula: one in the Thumb and three along the western side of the state. Region 1 includes parts of Allegan County; Region 2 includes parts of Antrim and Charlevoix counties; Region 3 includes parts of Benzie, Leelanau, and Manistee counties; and Region 4 includes parts of Huron, Sanilac, Tuscola, Bay and Saginaw counties.

Today’s report reiterates that the transition to increased wind energy development in Michigan will depend on a number of factors, such as state and federal policies and incentives, community acceptance, wind resources, land availability, and economic considerations. Another factor that may affect the scope and pace of wind energy development will be the ability of the electric transmission system to support the delivery of such power to customers.

Now that the final report has been submitted, transmission companies and electric utilities have the task of identifying for planning purposes the electric transmission facilities needed to deliver the estimated minimum and maximum wind energy potential from each of these regions. They are required to submit this information to the Wind Energy Resource Zone Board, which will review that information.

Following that, the MPSC will issue a final order that designates the area of Michigan likely to be most productive of wind energy as the primary wind energy resource zone and may designate additional wind energy resource zones. The MPSC is also required to submit a report to the Michigan legislature on the effect that setback requirements and noise limitations under local zoning or other ordinances may have on wind energy development in wind energy resource zones. The report will also include any recommendations the MPSC may have for legislation addressing those issues. The Commission will also conduct hearings in various areas of the state to receive public comment on the report.

The entire proposed report is available at www.michigan.gov/windboard.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth.

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