MPSC approves Detroit Edison major wind energy purchase

Source: Detroit Edison 

Detroit Edison's (NYSE:DTE) largest contract to purchase renewable energy was approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), setting in motion a 20-year agreement with Invenergy Wind that will result in 200 megawatts (MW) of new wind energy in Michigan. 

The agreement - which represents a $1.1 billion commitment to renewable energy by Detroit Edison - paves the way for Invenergy Wind to install and operate a 30,000-acre wind farm near Breckenridge in Gratiot County, Mich.
The new wind farm will host 125 1.6-MW GE wind turbines and will be the largest wind farm in the state. The wind turbines are expected to be operational by late 2011 after a year of construction and will have the capacity to power nearly 54,000 homes. 

"This contract represents a large step in Detroit Edison's growing renewable energy portfolio," said Steve Kurmas, Detroit Edison president and chief operating officer. "Just as important are the economic development ramifications and building the state's renewable energy industry." 

The contract with Invenergy Wind is one of many agreements the utility expects to sign to provide renewable energy to its customers. The contract provides Detroit Edison with an option to buy a portion of the project after construction is completed. If Detroit Edison exercises the option, the remaining capacity will remain as purchased power for the utility. 

"The Gratiot County wind facility will benefit both the local community and Detroit Edison customers," said Michael Polsky, Invenergy Wind president and CEO. "We're excited about partnering with Detroit Edison and helping to create more jobs in the renewable energy industry to boost Michigan's economy." 

The new facility will bring immediate economic benefits to Michigan and Gratiot County. Construction, expected to start late this year, is planned to employ more than 150 skilled workers. In addition, 15 full-time local high-tech jobs servicing the turbines will be created and housed in an on-site operations and maintenance facility complemented by local vendors to maintain the turbines and the project's infrastructure. 

A key element of the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard is to encourage the development of renewable energy projects in Michigan. Detroit Edison will need about 1,200 MW of renewable energy capacity to meet the state standard. 

The utility plans to own renewable energy projects to generate about half of the 1,200 MW and contract with third-party producers such as Invenergy Wind for the rest. The Invenergy contract will boost Detroit Edison's renewable energy capacity to nearly 4 percent of total generation. 

Detroit Edison expects the majority of its renewable energy to come from wind resources. The company has acquired land rights to nearly 80,000 acres of land in Huron County in Michigan's Thumb region for development of large-scale wind projects. Recent approval by the Midwest Independent System Operator to expand the transmission system in the Thumb will provide the necessary infrastructure for wind projects. The company also has two solar energy pilot programs that could produce about 20 MW of electricity. 



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