MARQUETTE - The first wind turbine installed on the Garden Township Wind Farm became operational this month and is working to generate its projected 5,000 megawatt hours of energy for the year.
The wind farm, located just south of Manistique, is owned by Traverse City-based Heritage Sustainable Energy, which is best known for its success in constructing the Stoney Corners Wind Farm in southern Missaukee County downstate.
Heritage Vice President of Operations Rick Wilson said the Garden Township Wind Farm is slated to house a total of 14 wind turbines. Construction is scheduled to resume at the end of this month.
Wilson said the turbines are placed in specific locations to maximize their energy output.
"We place them strategically, so they're significantly away from any residences, in open farmland where the wind is best," Wilson said. "We also space them far enough apart from one another so they don't interfere with each other."
He said the project is set on mostly open, active farmland, with areas needed for the turbines leased to Heritage. More than 20 landowners are participating in the program, he said.
Energy generated by the turbines will be sold to utility firms Detroit Edison and Consumers Energy.
The company is expecting construction of the 450-foot tall turbines to be complete by the end of August, Wilson said, when they should all be operational as well.
"We have the land all established, we have all the permits we need, we have the connection to the grid," Wilson said. "Really, it's just the installation and commission of the new wind turbines that needs to be completed."
The Garden Township project is just one of many wind farms being constructed last year, according to the American Wind Energy Association, with a total installation of 6,810 mega watts of wind power capacity across the nation in 2011 alone.
U.S. wind industry is at a total of 46,919 mega watts of cumulative wind capacity, with wind farms already located or set for construction in 31 states.
U.S. wind power capacity accounts for more than 20 percent of the world's installed wind power.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.