West Michigan large scale offshore wind farm

An international developer wants to invest $3 billion in wind energy and he thinks West Michigan is the best spot in the country to do it. The head of Havgul Clean Energy says the winds off Lake Michigan near Ludington are perfect for a large scale wind farm. He wants to put between 100 and 200 turbines a couple miles off shore.

A Public Information Meeting has been scheduled for Mason County to provide information concerning the Aegir Offshore Wind Farm Project. The wind farm, to be located in Lake Michigan outside of Mason and Oceana counties in western Michigan, has been proposed by Scandia Wind Offshore and its Norwegian partner, Havgul Clean Energy.

Mason and Oceana County officials have requested that the developers hold informational meetings in both counties to provide their citizens with a chance to learn about the project and ask questions. Scandia Wind Offshore and Havgul Clean Energy have agreed to hold meetings in December and January.

Members of Scandia Wind Offshore, Steve Warner (CEO) and Harald Dirdal (Project Director with partner Havgul Clean Energy of Norway), welcome the opportunity to meet with the public to begin a dialog regarding the feasibility study for the Aegir Project.

"We are certainly interested in the area from technical standpoint but, at this point, we are more interested in engaging the citizens in the area — to share the preliminary data we have gathered, discuss what a project like this could mean in terms of local job creation, and get as much feedback as possible," said Warner. Dirdal added, "Based on our experience in offshore wind farm development, it is essential to meet with the public early and often; their support of the project is very important. We look forward to the opportunity."

The Aegir Project’s ability to move forward is dependent upon a formal decision by the elected officials of the counties, townships, and city to support the next steps in the feasibility study.

U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario see strong potential in the winds that sweep across the lakes, with Michigan alone estimating 320,000 megawatts of wind potential in its waters. Developers and state officials said a combination of factors makes the wind projects viable even in the face of the higher costs and technical challenges that come with working in open water.

One of the strongest commitments in the U.S. came from the New York Power Authority, which announced it would sign long-term power sales contracts with developers that build in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Other Great Lakes states are developing programs to promote wind power projects, while the Ontario government looks at nearly 150 proposed offshore projects.

The massive 100 to 200 wind turbines was outlined by a Norwegian wind development company Havgul Clean Energy AS for the waters off northern Oceana and southern Mason counties. The $3 billion Aegir Offshore Wind Farm is being suggested for a 100 square mile area from the Ludington Pumped Storage Facility south to Silver Lake State Park near Mears.

The 300- to 450-foot-high turbines would be built as close as two miles offshore from Silver Lake to 41/2 miles off the Ludington shoreline.

The wind energy project, being proposed in conjunction with Minnesota Scandia Wind Offshore, would take five to 10 years to complete and needs numerous approvals from federal, state and local governments. Havgul and Scandia have been looking for U.S. wind farm locations for about two years, and settled on a Lake Michigan site in the last six months.

The connections to the electrical grid at the Ludington Pumped Storage Facility reduces the cost of distribution and West Michigan is close to the large population centers of Detroit and Chicago. The sound of the lake’s waves would not allow anyone on shore to hear the turbines. Also, the angle of the sun would keep any light flickers from reaching the shoreline.