Wind Project Could Bring Manufacturing Jobs To Mich.

A wind project developer has floated a $4 billion plan that includes bringing a wind turbine manufacturer to western Michigan employing about 3,000 people.

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) -- A wind project developer has floated a $4 billion plan that includes offshore wind farms in Lake Michigan and luring a wind turbine manufacturer to western Michigan.

Chanhassen, Minn.-based Scandia Wind Offshore LLC wants to build a wind facility six miles off the coast of Grand Haven. With that and two other wind farms it has proposed in the area, the company said it would work to bring a wind turbine manufacturer potentially employing about 3,000 people.

Scandia Wind outlined its proposal Monday in meetings at the Grand Valley State University Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon.

Project Manager Harald Dirdal called the offshore sites near Grand Haven and Pentwater "perfect from a technical point of view," and said it's important for the regional leaders to consider moving quickly to develop what would be the first such offshore facilities in the U.S.

"We believe in the 'first-mover' advantage but it is not going to happen by itself," Dirdal was quoted as saying in a story by The Muskegon Chronicle.

Some residents and local leaders have complained in recent months about wind farms harming lakefront views and recreational tourism. Scandia scaled back its plans off the shore of Pentwater, north of Muskegon.

Scandia originally proposed a facility about two miles offshore that could generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity, which would power about 250,000 homes; the plan now calls for a smaller, 500-megawatt facility about four miles offshore.

The expanded plan now splits the 1,000 megawatts, with 500 megawatts going to the site near Grand Haven. In 50 square miles in both areas, Scandia proposes 50-100 turbines.

"We were so focused on keeping the 1,000 megawatts -- the project would be sizable enough for a (turbine manufacturer) to consider," Dirdal told The Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that Scandia has talked to one company about the possibility of building a plant in Michigan.

A third planned facility is a smaller, 125-megawatt farm at the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System.

Dirdal said Scandia is seeking a public-private arrangement with the counties where the wind farms are located. The company may offer partial ownership stakes and $1 million annual payments to each county.

The overall project would require local support and state permit approvals. Once those are secured, construction could start in 2015 and wind turbines could be fully operational by 2020.

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