Consumers Energy wind parks producing clean, renewable energy for Michigan

We’ve pioneered wind power in Michigan for more than a decade and now have turbines turning shore-to-shore across the Lower Peninsula. Our wind parks are a key piece of our Clean Energy Plan to protect the environment while supplying the power our customers need in the coming decades.

Wind power provides clean, renewable energy for homes and businesses while supplying revenue for landowners and their local communities. That’s why we’re exploring opportunities for wind expansion in the state.

Our five wind energy parks can produce enough clean, renewable energy for nearly 330,000 Michigan households. Here are more details about each facility:

  1. Lake Winds, located in Mason County, was our first wind park and started operations in 2012.
  2. Cross Winds in Tuscola and Huron counties started operating in three phases: 2014, 2018 and 2019.
  3. Gratiot Farms in Gratiot County began operating in 2020.
  4. Crescent Wind located in Hillsdale County, began operations in 2021.
  5. Heartland Farms Wind in Gratiot County, our newest facility, came online in January 2024.

Answers to your questions about wind power in Michigan

How long does it typically take to site and build a wind park in Michigan?

Building a wind park requires roughly four to eight years. The timeline from concept to operation can vary depending on a variety of factors such as project size and location, regulatory processes, environmental assessments, and community engagement. Construction typically takes only two years to completion.

Where are the best locations for wind projects and how do you decide where to place turbines?

Significant tracts of flat, open land with few obstacles and, of course, strong, consistent winds are well-suited to projects. Often, this means looking in rural and agricultural areas of the state. Distance to existing transmission infrastructure is also a critical factor for wind developments. The closer, the better. Lack of access or long distances to high-voltage transmission and distribution can increase costs and other siting issues.

Once we’ve selected a project area, several factors determine where turbines are placed, including:

  • The size and technology of the turbines.
  • Wind data collected by meteorological towers.
  • Local zoning ordinance requirements.
  • Topography and terrain.
  • Proximity to transmission infrastructure.
  • Environmental considerations.

Can I continue to farm if wind turbines are placed on my property?

Typically, yes. We design our wind parks to safely maximize electric generation while minimizing the impact on agricultural operations. Turbines are spaced to adhere to safety setbacks and ensure efficient production, and turbine foundations are relatively small. This means farmers can continue to use nearly all their land, growing crops to within a few feet of the turbines.

Temporary access roads may limit farming activity during construction. But developers typically work to minimize the impact and restore the land when the project is finished.

What happens when wind turbines reach the end of their operational lives?

While wind projects are expected to operate for 20 to 35 years, turbines are eventually ready for decommissioning. This means they are dismantled, removed and most of the components are recycled. In fact, 80-94% of a wind turbine’s mass consists of easily recycled materials, according to the American Clean Power Association.

Any material or waste that cannot be recycled is managed and disposed of according to environmental regulations. After dismantling and removal, the site is restored to its original condition or repurposed for other uses.

Do communities still have a say about where wind projects are located?

Yes. Renewable energy siting reform laws recently signed by Gov. Whitmer streamlined the permitting process for utility-scale renewable energy projects by:

  • Granting ultimate authority to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).
  • Establishing governing guidelines for often debated topics such as the amount of noise and light projects can emit and their distance from neighboring buildings.

But the approval process for utility-scale renewable energy projects will continue to start with local governments such as townships or counties. We plan to continue working with local community stakeholders to find mutually beneficial solutions and craft favorable local renewable energy ordinances that enable safe, successful projects while protecting the communities, landowners, wildlife and the environment.

How can I learn more?

Find more information about our Clean Energy Plan: ConsumersEnergy.com/Change

Discover more about our wind parks: ConsumersEnergy.com/WindGeneration

Suggested sources about wind power include:

  • The American Wind Energy Association
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Wind Energy Foundation
  • U.S. Department of Energy Wind Technologies Office