Consumers Energy Moving Forward With Michigan Wind Energy Investment Plan

The utility has secured easements for nearly 60,000 acres to date for wind farm development on Michigan’s west side in Mason County, and on the state’s east side in Tuscola and Huron counties. The wind farms will be owned and operated by Consumers Energy.

The wind farm in Mason County will be called the Lake Winds Energy Park. It will have a capacity of 100 megawatts. The park is scheduled for commercial operation in 2012.

The wind farm expected to be located in Tuscola County and Huron County will be called the Cross Winds Energy Park. It is scheduled for commercial operation in two phases in 2015 and 2017. On Wednesday, the Michigan Public Service Commission designated an area that includes parts of Tuscola, Huron, Bay, Saginaw, and Sanilac counties as the state’s primary wind energy resource zone.

As part of the development of the Lake Winds Energy Park, Consumers Energy has issued a request for proposal to five pre-selected manufacturers of wind turbine generators.

"We’re pleased to reach these significant milestones for our wind generation plans. Wind holds great promise for Michigan as a renewable energy source. Wind is expected to be the primary means by which Consumers Energy will meet Michigan’s 10 percent renewable energy standard," said Linda Hilbert, Consumers Energy’s manager of renewable energy.

Consumers Energy is the largest supplier of renewable energy in Michigan. More than 4 percent of the power that Consumers Energy supplies to customers comes from renewable sources based in the state.

Wind generation is a major part of Consumers Energy’s Balanced Energy Initiative. Under that plan, by the end of 2017, Consumers Energy expects to own or purchase an additional 900 megawatts of Michigan-based renewable energy. The development of the renewable energy resources will enhance air quality by reducing emissions from traditional power plants.

The Balanced Energy Initiative calls for a portfolio of diverse energy resources to meet the power needs of the utility’s 1.8 million electric customers over the next 20 years. A recent analysis of the plan details how two-thirds of the projected new energy resources needed to serve customers through 2018 will be provided by renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and demand side management (reducing customer usage during peak periods).

The Balanced Energy Initiative is a key part of Consumers Energy’s Growing Forward strategy, which calls for investing more than $6 billion in the utility over the next five years. That includes significant investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, environmental and customer service enhancements, and new power generation.

The substantial investments make Consumers Energy one of the largest – if not the largest – investor in the state of Michigan. Those investments will help the utility maintain and improve service to customers, create jobs, boost the state’s economy, and expand the state’s tax base.

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.