The first of 133 blades on Invenergy's windfarm is up.
More than 300 feet tall– or more than 450 feet from the tip of the blade to the base – the installation of the first blades had nearly of all of Breckenridge buzzing Tuesday.
One of the hottest spots in the village was on the corner of Birch and Eighth Street or just off McClelland Road.
Word had gotten around that the blades would go up at 2 p.m. Not long after that word came that it would be 3 p.m.
The perfect day – a little warm but with a slight breeze – brought out residents wanting to see for themselves how it was all going to happen.
Some brought binoculars and cameras and spotted two, then three men at the top of the generator waiting for the blades.
From the road, the men looked like tiny, flickering dots.
The generator itself is about as big as a small mobile home that was placed on top of the tower, but it too, looked miniscule.
Traffic on McClelland was heavy and steady during the afternoon as lots of motorists traveled at a snail's pace, while other vehicles, some with the Aristeo Construction logo, were moving at a normal speed.
But at 3:15 p.m., there was still no action. At 3:30 p.m. a little movement was seen, and at 3:45 p.m. word came again that it would be another half hour.
However, the blades were lifted almost immediately after that.
Watching blades being lifted across a sugar beet field is almost like watching paint dry. Turn around however, and the blades have risen another 50 feet.
It didn't take that long to put it in place.
“This is exciting,” said Barbara Juhas, who along with her brother owns a 112 acre farm in Wheeler Township. She'll have two turbines on her property.
“They just delivered the towers,” she said. “We have numbers 45 and 46 but we were told they're not going in order of numbers.”
Kevin Parzyck , senior development manager for Invenergy, said construction is progressing on schedule.
“Current construction activities also include civil site work on access roads and foundations,” he said in a written statement. “Work is is in progress on the new substation and underground electrical collection lines between turbines, as well as on an overhead transmission line connection the substation to the grid interconnection point.”
Invenergy has signed a 20 year contract with DTE to sell the wind farm's power.
“Late this fall, we expect to begin the commissioning process on the installed turbines, which involves initial start up and testing and software configuration,” Parzyck continued. “And so, if you lived in the area, you may see the turbines spinning from time to time accordingly. It's all part of the project's evolution which will result in actual electricity production starting next year.”
That the wind farm is bringing a big economic boost to the county is without question.
Gratiot County Administrator Nicole Frost has said that the wind farm will pay more in taxes in its first year of operation than the county's 10 biggest tax payers combined.
And the construction work has added another boost.
“At Brett Martin's party store, he's selling breakfasts, lunch, and dinner,” Juhas said. “It's tripled his business, and at Anchutz's Cafe, they are busy all the time. The workers have to eat.”
Two of her grandsons have applied for the 15 or so maintenance jobs that will be necessary once the project is complete, she added.
All 133 wind turbines, “will be wonderful when they're done. It's clean energy,” Juhas said.