Wind Picks Up In Michigan, Pushed By Exelon

When Exelon Wind purchased John Deere renewables in 2010, it acquired ownership of 36 wind farms across eight states, and become one of the largest wind generation operators in the country. With sudden ownership of 121.8 MW of wind generation capacity in Michigan, the company also earned the distinction of being the largest wind operator in the state, without ever having developed a wind farm. But now, that’s changed.

Exelon Wind announced completion of its first commercial wind farm – the Michigan Wind 2 Project, in Minden City, Mich. Output from the Michigan 2 project will be purchased by Jackson-based Consumers Energy through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Exelon-wind

image via Exelon Wind

The 90-megawatt (MW) wind farm consists of 50 turbines – enough to power more than 30,000 homes. The project is southeast of the 46-turbine Michigan Wind 1 Project, in northern Sanilac and Huron counties. The project’s completion brings Exelon Wind’s total generation capacity in Michigan to 212 MW, including the Harvest I Wind in Elkton, Mich. Exelon is also pursing two additional development projects in Michigan, which are expected to be operational in the 2012-2013 timeframe. Construction on Harvest II Wind, a 59.4-MW project in nearby Pigeon, will begin in early 2012.

“We’re excited to bring Michigan Wind 2 online,” David Drescher, vice president of wind energy for Exelon Power, said in a statement. “The clean generation from this project will help Michigan meet its renewable energy goals, it will provide clean energy for over 30,000 homes and brings significant economic benefits to the local community.” The project is also expected to generate over $12 million in local tax revenue over its first 20 years of operation.

Exelon Wind is a division of Exelon Power, which owns and operates Exelon’s renewable, hydroelectric and fossil power plants. Chicago-based Exelon Corporation is one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., with one of the largest electricity generation portfolios. Exelon distributes electricity to approximately 5.4 million customers in northern Illinois and southeastern Pennsylvania, and natural gas to approximately 490,000 customers in the Philadelphia area.

In Exelon’s “Exelon 2020: A Low-Carbon Roadmap,” published in November, the company argues that imposing tough clean air regulations and doing away with subsidies and mandates are the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions. Over 90 percent of Exelon’s power comes from nuclear power plants, but the company also owns 735 MW of wind power capacity in Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon and Texas. As of May 2011, Exelon was halfway toward meeting its goal eliminating or offsetting the equivalent of the company’s 2001 carbon footprint, or 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, by 2020.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).