Energy Company Wants To Test Winds Around Buckley

May 12, 2014

Credit Tom Carr

If the wind is right, the Buckley area could see 60 power generating windmills rise above the fields.

That's about what it would take to crank out enough electricity to power more than 30,000 homes, which is what NextEra Energy Resources hopes to produce here. Wexford County does not currently have any windmills feeding power to the utility grid.

The Juno Beach, Fla. company is asking the county's permission to first put up a tower to measure the wind, says spokesman Steve Stengel.

"That's one of the first things, if not the first thing that you do any time you're looking at a wind project," he says.

In addition to wind speeds, NextEra must determine if it can sell the power and find property owners willing to lease land for the turbines.

"We're looking to sell the power to a utility or municipality or someone like that who will then take the power and sell it to the end-use customer," Stengel says.

The Wexford County Planning Commission will consider the proposal for a testing tower Wednesday.

Projects in nearby counties have sparked concern--and lawsuits--over shadows, noise and cluttering the scenery.

NextEra has over 100 wind farms throughout the country, including four in Michigan's Thumb. All of the electricity produced on its wind farms stays in Michigan.

In addition to selling to utility companies that must meet a statewide mandate to use some renewable energy, wind energy is also sold directly to large businesses committed to using sustainable resources. NextEra sells power directly to Google and other high-tech businesses, says Stengel.