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Winds of change on the horizon

As farmers work in the field to harvest crops, NextEra Energy Resources LLC have cranes in the fields to put up turbines to harvest the wind in Blumfield and Gilford townships. (Right) Tuscola County’s first wind farm is taking shape one turbine at a time. Some of them are expected to be generating power any day.

By Mary Drier
Staff Writer

THUMB AREA — The first wind farm in Tuscola, Bay, and Saginaw counties is on schedule to be complete by the end of the year – that is if  the weather cooperates.

“It’s been too windy for the cranes to work setting all of the tower sections,” said NextEra Energy Resource Engineer Mike Bogie. “We’re here building a wind farm because there is good wind to produce energy, but we can’t set the towers if the wind is too strong. It’s too dangerous for the cranes to operate in high winds.”

NextEra is in the process of building 75 turbines in Blumfield and Gilford townships, and a power sub-station in Bay County for the “Tuscola – Bay Wind Farm.”

“Completion will depend on the weather… mostly the wind. The plan is to be done by the end of the year,” said Bogie. “There might be some little odds and ends to be finished up, but they should all be generating by then.”

NextEra is investing over $250 million to build the wind farm.

“All 75 foundations are done. There have been 26 bases set. Seven in Blumfield and the rest in Tucola County,” said Bogie noting a some of the turbines are ready to generate power.

Each turbine in the Tuscola – Bay Wind Farm will be 262 feet from the base to the hub with 150-foot long blades attached to it.

“Each one (turbine) is 1.6 megawatts,” said Mary Wells with NextEra’s Media Relations Department noting overall the farm will be 120 megawatts. “That’s enough power for 50,000 homes.”

As the turbines are being built, International Transmission Company (ITC) is in the process to installing 140 miles of double-circuit 345,000 – volt transmission lines and four substations to carry the power generated by the turbines connect to the grid.

ITC’s lines are the “backbone” of the system that is designed to meet the maximum wind-energy potential of the Thumb region.

Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at drier@tcadvertiser.com.

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