2017-12-17 / Community View

Touring a ‘wind park’


1 Michael Sage, marketing program manager, renewable energy wind development, DTE Energy, uses a model to demonstrate yaw and pitch. In simpler terms, he’s showing how a wind turbine adjusts to changing wind conditions. (Lower left) DTE’s Huron Renewable Energy Center, 1000 S. Van Dyke, in Bad Axe. 
Photo by Andrew Dietderich 1 Michael Sage, marketing program manager, renewable energy wind development, DTE Energy, uses a model to demonstrate yaw and pitch. In simpler terms, he’s showing how a wind turbine adjusts to changing wind conditions. (Lower left) DTE’s Huron Renewable Energy Center, 1000 S. Van Dyke, in Bad Axe. Photo by Andrew Dietderich BAD AXE

Tucked away from

M-53 in Bad Axe, in a building that once served as a location of an 80-year-old retailer, DTE Energy workers keep an eye on a wall of monitors — and the future.

Screens show the status of DTE’s 213 wind turbines in

Huron County.

Green lights are good. That means the corresponding wind turbine is up and running, “harvesting” wind energy that’s ultimately converted to power.

Yellow lights mean a wind turbine is shut down, either being repaired or awaiting repair.


A pair of cable sections on display at DTE’s Thumb Wind Parks operations and management center in Bad Axe. The aluminum cables are used to move electricity underground from the wind turbines to substations. 
Photo by Phil Foley A pair of cable sections on display at DTE’s Thumb Wind Parks operations and management center in Bad Axe. The aluminum cables are used to move electricity underground from the wind turbines to substations. Photo by Phil Foley There are few yellow lights.

The monitors, part of the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, also show current wind speeds, how much power is being generated, and more.

It’s the kind of thing visitors to DTE’s Huron Renewable Energy Center see when participating in the utility company’s wind park tour.

Editorial staff from The County Press took part in one such tour on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

From the moment one walks in the door and is greeted by a ceiling fan that looks like the blades of a wind turbine and a wall-length, educational touchscreen, the center focuses on all things wind.

Among other things, visitors can see a cross-section of a small part of a wind turbine blade, the kind of wires used to transmit power from a wind turbine to the power grid, and a model of wind turbine designed to show how wind turbines operate based on certain conditions, such as wind speed and direction.

The tour also includes a presentation from DTE officials, along with a short drive to a nearby wind park. Staff from The County Press were taken to the recently constructed Pinnebog Wind Park. The area shows what the landscape looks like when turbines — and the supporting infrastructure — are online.

As The County Press reported Nov. 15, the company offers tours for those who are interested, including school groups.

Simply call 855-227- 3245 to request a wind park tour. The company says it will “work with residents to schedule a date and wind park location.”

— Andrew Dietderich



Opponents of wind generation call wind parks “pure visual vandalism” and they contend the wind turbines do everything from kill birds to disrupt nearby residents’ sleep patterns. 
Photo by Phil Foley Opponents of wind generation call wind parks “pure visual vandalism” and they contend the wind turbines do everything from kill birds to disrupt nearby residents’ sleep patterns. Photo by Phil Foley

2 (Above) Officials say they try to place wind turbine access roads in places where they will have the least impact. This road is part of the Pinnebog Wind Park and runs between a small creek and farm field. (Below) DTE’s Sage shows the cross section of a wind turbine blade, while he explains the materials used in their manufacture. 
Photo by Andrew Dietderich 2 (Above) Officials say they try to place wind turbine access roads in places where they will have the least impact. This road is part of the Pinnebog Wind Park and runs between a small creek and farm field. (Below) DTE’s Sage shows the cross section of a wind turbine blade, while he explains the materials used in their manufacture. Photo by Andrew Dietderich


Wind turbine stretch on to the horizon at the edge of Oliver Township outside Bad Axe. DTE officials say they have a working life of 30 years. The utility has signed some leases in northern Lapeer County, which means turbines could appear on our horizon in the next two to 10 years. 
Photo by Phil Foley Wind turbine stretch on to the horizon at the edge of Oliver Township outside Bad Axe. DTE officials say they have a working life of 30 years. The utility has signed some leases in northern Lapeer County, which means turbines could appear on our horizon in the next two to 10 years. Photo by Phil Foley

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