As of late afternoon last Tuesday, the first of 133 wind turbine generators was up in Breckenridge.
The GE 1.6 MW turbine, which some would say resembles a giant pinwheel, towers over the surrounding landscape at a height of approximately 328 feet.
The blades, which are spun by the wind to generate power and could be mistaken for giant Mercedes-Benz advertisements if one didn't know better, are 131 feet long, making the total height of the structures an impressive 463 feet (from base to blade tip when blade is vertical).
For comparisons sake, the first hill of Cedar Points' Millennium Force monster coaster is 310 feet tall, just a shade shorter than the wind turbines that will essentially put Gratiot County on the map.
Invenergy Vice President of Development Kevin Parzyck is pleased to announce that the project is progressing on schedule.
“Turbine components are continuing to arrive on site and, as you can see, turbine erection has now begun,” said Parzyck. “Current construction activities also include civil site work on access roads and foundations.”
According to Invenergy stats, each turbine is supported by a reinforced concrete foundation weighing several hundred tons.
At the same time the turbines are being erected and crews put the finishing touches on access roads, Invenergy is also working on a new substation and underground electrical collection lines, as well as on an overhead transmission line connecting the substation to the grid interconnection point in Midland County.
Most of the technical work involving getting the turbines online will commence later this fall.
“Late this fall we expect to begin the commissioning process on the installed turbines, which involves initial start-up and testing and software configuration,” said Parzyck. “If you live in the area, you may see the turbines spinning from time to time. It's all part of the project's evolution, which will result in actual electricity production starting next year.”
Officials from the Chicago based company also took the opportunity to express their contentment with the host county.
“Invenergy is excited to move forward with the development of the Gratiot County Wind Project, and we greatly appreciate the support from citizens, local business and community leaders, and local officials,” said Parzyck. “We look forward to a strong partnership with our host community, to contributing to its' economic development, and to producing clean, renewable energy in Gratiot County.”