DTE Flips The Switch On Long-Delayed Echo Wind Park

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DTE Energy has announced that its long-delayed Echo Wind Park is officially online, helping the utility meet Michigan's renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

The 112 MW project was originally scheduled to enter commercial operation in November 2013, but the company had halted work after a blade from a GE 1.6-100 turbine broke off. Before the blade failure occurred, workers had erected – and commissioned along the way – 59 of Echo's 70 turbines.

Following an investigation, GE determined the incident and similar blade failures at other wind farms were due to a spar cap manufacturing anomaly. The turbine maker took steps to replace affected blades across its fleet, and DTE spokesperson Scott Simons says, ‘We're satisfied the root cause has been determined and addressed.’

Earlier this year, Invenergy, another developer affected by the GE spar cap issue, started operations of its Orangeville wind farm in New York following similar blade change-outs.

Now that DTE's Echo project, located in Huron County, Mich., is live, the utility says its renewables portfolio has hit 9.6% and is on track to meet Michigan's 10% by 2015 RPS. Echo is also DTE's first wind project that will tie into a new 345 kV transmission system built to handle all the renewable energy flowing onto the grid in the state's Thumb region.

‘At DTE Energy, we're supportive of renewable energy as part of a diversified and balanced generating portfolio,’ says Irene Dimitry, DTE Energy vice president of marketing and renewables. ‘Our goal is to deliver cleaner, reliable and affordable energy to power Michigan's future.’

In addition to Echo, DTE owns and operates the 110 MW Thumb Wind Park, nearly half of the 213 MW Gratiot County wind project, and the 75 MW Brookfield Wind Park. The utility will also purchase power from Heritage Sustainable Energy's 20 MW Big Turtle wind farm, which is expected to be operational later this year.

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