Since April, DTE Electric Company has recorded easements on 276 parcels of agricultural property in Branch County for the purpose of evaluation for wind farm developments.
Atwell Engineering, as agents for DTE, has negotiated and recorded documents from 59 property owners mostly in Union, Sherwood and Matteson Townships.
Other parcels are in Batavia, Bronson, and three in Quincy Townships.
The easements, filed with the Register of Deeds, started with one filed by Union Township Supervisor Ralph Strong and his wife in April. The latest one was filed in September.
The easements are labeled “Standard Utility Wind Easements” and assigned to DTE Electric Company to evaluate the property for suitability for associated transmission lines, wind and weather monitoring, access, towers and wind turbines, it states.
No one was willing to discuss financial terms of the easements, which continue to exist until cancelled by DTE.
All do indicate, however, the projects are subject to local ordinances, setbacks, and noise levels.
So far none of the townships have such an ordinance. Matteson and Ovid townships will discuss solar and wind ordinances during workshops this month.
Strong said Union township will not consider one.
Three townships, Quincy, Butler, and Girard, have passed ordinances regulating solar farms but wind has not been considered.
DTE has developed 13 wind projects, mostly in the thumb region of Michigan with three in north central Michigan.
Those generate 905 megawatts.
Last month DTE issued a statement on its wind projects, “As the state’s largest investor in renewable energy, DTE Energy has collaboratively engaged with communities across Michigan to drive investments of $2 billion in wind energy since 2008, creating hundreds of jobs for residents and a local tax revenue for communities while delivering reliable, affordable and clean energy for our 2.2 million Michigan customers.”
If built, the projects would be taxed as personal property. Owners have filed notice that the easements would continue to be used and remain subject to agricultural exemptions.
As the state’s largest investor and producer of wind energy, DTE produces enough energy from renewable sources to power nearly 450,000 homes.
The U.S. Department of Energy said Michigan ranks among the top 15 states nationwide for potential wind energy generation.
The area around the Great Lakes is particularly well-suited for wind energy development because of the availability of higher wind speeds across flat land.
The cost of wind generation has decreased significantly as technology has advanced and the industry has expanded, making wind energy the most costeffective renewable energy resource. Calls to the DTE Wind manager were not returned Tuesday.