Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe continues work on wind turbine

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe is continuing work on a wind turbine under construction on tribal land in Mount Pleasant.

The wind turbine will be located near the corners of Shepherd and Remus roads. The foundation has been poured and the project is nearing the stages of raising the bases of the tower, said Environmental Response Program Specialist Craig Graveratte.

“In 2005, I wrote a small grant for a wind turbine to power the greenhouse at 7th Generation/Elijah Elk Cultural Center,” said Sally Kniffen, environmental specialist for the tribe. “That request was taken by Beaver Pelcher to the tribe's lobbyist, and it turned into a major earmark/grant (of) $250,000. With that money, the tribe decided the best use was to invest in a wind energy feasibility study.”

Steve Smiley, a Michigan energy economist, was hired, finished the study and proposed a comprehensive renewable energy plan and presented it to Tribal Council, Kniffen said.

Along with the wind energy grants, the tribe applied for Housing Grants and an Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant.

“The turbine itself will be about 199 feet tall. It is expected to generate between 300,000-500,000 KW per year, depending on the winds,” Graveratte said.

The cost savings of the project is between $30,000 and $50,000 per year, which will be applied to the general fund to offset energy costs, Kniffen said.

As for the wildlife issues, the threats will be very minimal, as some studies have reported more birds are killed by things like glass buildings and natural predators like cats, Graveratte said. They will take on the issue through a case-by-case basis and evaluate it at that time.

“This project is a good project; we have learned a lot,” Kniffen said. “Unfortunately, it has not been an easy road to energy sovereignty. Renewable energy is the future, and it will be a big achievement for the tribe to move in this direction.”

The wind turbine is scheduled to be completed this summer, but there is no exact date set.


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