Community Wind Farm Idea Unites Farmers

In 2007 Mark Hull, now project manager for Beebe Community Wind Farm in Ithaca, Michigan, started going around and speaking to local farm owners within Gratiot County. His proposition? That the farmers consider leasing portions of their land toward a community wind energy project. The response was largely positive. Beebe Community Wind Farm now has 20,000 acres ready to be used for wind turbine installations. Now, through an agreement with wind turbine manufacturer Nordex USA, the community wind farm is ready to become more than just an idea and a name. Soon, it will be a fully functioning wind farm.

Nordex is providing more than just the turbines for the 300 megawatt capacity operation. Since the project is run primarily by Hull in cooperation with local agricultural farmers, some experience in wind farming was needed.  According to Mark Hull, the company’s expertise has been instrumental in getting the project beyond the concept phase. “Including them (Nordex) in the project team has considerably accelerated our development efforts,” said Hull.

Nordex Turbine

image via Nordex USA

The project will include the use of 125 of Nordex’s 2.4 MW turbines, which are designed specifically for low wind sites by incorporating a super long rotor blade. The project has secured several connection points on a 345 kV line and been granted a special use permit from the county. Wind measurements have been taken at the site for the last two years using meteorological towers and sonic wind detections systems called SODARs.

The project has phase one of construction slated for 2012 and will continue with two more phases over the following two years. Sales of the power are being addressed in on-going negotiations.

  • Frost_56033

    Did anyone ever tell the farmers that the infrastructure that comes with building one of these farms will ruin their yeilds and cost them thousands more than what they will get paid from their lease?

  • Frost_56033

    Or that they will never be able to use aerial application to fight insects and disease in their farm? nI really hope they read the fine print in those lease agreements. Because I know from experience that if they don’t look at the fine print they could lose their farm forever. I am in favor of wind energy just not in the middle of prime farm land that can never be recovered once it’s gone. They should be building those wind turbines on the sides of mountains where no one can grow food that feeds the planet.

  • windisawesome

    Frost_56033 are you an idiot?  Yes, wind farms will take producing crop land out of the farmers’ fields, but that is why they sign a lease; they get more money on a per acre basis than they could with any legal crop on their farm.  I don’t know any Michigan farms growing marijuana, coca for cocaine or poppy. 
    Crops that aren’t directly impacted by the facilities aren’t impacted by any other means; production will not change on the nearby land!
    Aerial application can continue as it does today.  Have you never seen an airplane fly under distribution power lines??  Those are much closer to the ground than the lowest point on wind turbines ever reach.  The wind turbines will be about a quarter of a mile apart so there is plenty of room for planes to fly and turn.  Visit states like Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota that have hundreds of wind turbines and watch the planes fly by!
    And do you know what the folks who live near those mountains say?  Go build them in the farm fields where nobody cares what they look like.  Everybody likes clean energy as long as they can’t see it.  Should we call you a NIMBY (not in my back yard) or a BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone)?

    Get over yourself and support wind energy!

  • Tom Jewell

    The wind turbines in Gratiot County is one of the greatest feats of construction in the State since the Mackinaw Bridge. Talk about AMERICAN ENERGY, WOW what a sight.
     Tom Jewell, Dewitt

  • Lars from LEMWERDER

    Hi from germany ! I build this Blade at my Work in LEMWERDER GERMANY SGL ROTEC !

  • Kevin Tucker

    Who is in charge of hiring climbers for maintenance on these turbines? I live in Big Rapids, MI and are interested in joining the crew. Thanks