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Posted on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

Michigan company says $1.4M wind energy project in Ann Arbor will be in good hands

By Ryan J. Stanton

Lake Effect Energy Corp. of Harbor Springs, Mich., says it's planning to partner with New York-based Wind Products Inc. on a $1.4 million wind energy project in Ann Arbor.

The New York company was mentioned by Ann Arbor officials earlier this month at a City Council meeting where the project was discussed, but the Michigan company's name never came up.

Brian Steglitz, a senior utilities engineer for the city, said that's only because Lake Effect Energy is a proposed subcontractor, and since the city doesn't yet have a contract with Wind Products Inc., it didn't seem appropriate to identify its proposed subcontractors.


Lake Effect Energy Corp. of Harbor Springs, Mich., says one of two turbines it hopes to construct in Ann Arbor would be the same as this Gaia 11-kW turbine the company recently finished commissioning in Cross Village.

Courtesy of Lake Effect Energy Corp.

Christopher Stahl, president of Lake Effect Energy Corp., said he's happy to say his company plans to do about $253,000 worth of work on the project, which includes more than $94,000 worth of donated services.

Stahl said that's how much his company, which goes by LEEC, believes in the project.

"People need to know there's a Michigan company involved with this thing," Stahl told in a recent interview.

The idea is to install two turbines as wind energy demonstrations on property owned by Ann Arbor Public Schools somewhere in the city. The exact location hasn't been determined yet.

Stahl considers it a prime opportunity for the distributed wind energy industry in Michigan to show the public that wind energy is real and works, and he wants Ann Arborites to rest assured they're in good hands with experienced contractors lined up on the project.

California-based Talco Electronics is the distribution partner, according to Stahl, who said LEEC gets a lot of its turbines supplied through Talco.

Stahl said the companies are familiar with one another from being at wind energy conferences together. He described the wind energy industry as a small community in which "pretty much everybody knows everybody" because there's a relatively small number of companies doing projects.

According to LEEC, the plan is to put up two turbines: one Endurance 50-kW turbine on a 120-foot monopole, and one Gaia 11-kW turbine also on a 120-foot monopole.

Stahl said the Endurance turbine will be shipped in from British Columbia and the Gaia turbine will come all the way from Scotland.

"We're going to be providing the construction services and partial engineering," he said. "We're probably going to be doing some of the foundation engineering. And I think we're going to be going to all the initial meetings on public hearings and permitting, being we're the closest ones to the site."

The City Council voted 10-0 this month to accept and appropriate up to $951,500 in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy for the project. Wind Products Inc., based in Brooklyn, NY., is expected to provide the local match for the project.

Steglitz said Wind Products Inc. is interested in making money out of the deal, so the turbines will have to deliver real results, which could translate into reduced-cost energy for AAPS.

The City Council is expected to be asked at a future meeting to approve agreements with AAPS and Wind Products Inc. to move the project forward.


Crews work to install a Gaia 11-kW turbine in Cross Village. LEEC said its clients bought a farm three years earlier with the goal of building community around producing nutritious food in a sustainable way, and wind energy is a part of that.

Courtesy of Lake Effect Energy Corp.

Stahl said LEEC has been in the wind energy industry for about three and a half years and has done a number of projects.

"Unfortunately, our state — we're like five years behind the curve compared to everybody else as far as wind goes," Stahl said. "We just don't have a lot of systems up here in the state yet to see they really work.

"That's really the big question we run into all the time: Do they actually work? Well, some of them do and some of them don't, but you have to know what systems you're looking at."

Stahl said it's been his observation that when government money becomes available, "a lot of garbage" gets rushed to the market that shouldn't be out there.

But he said the two turbines his company plans to help bring to Ann Arbor are solid pieces of equipment with proven track records. He noted his company recently finished commissioning a Gaia turbine, just like the one being considered here in Ann Arbor, in Cross Village.

"The Gaia is a very reliable piece of equipment," he said. "It's very quiet. It's a two-bladed machine. It is a smaller generator."

The maker of the Gaia 11-kW boasts that tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy showed the turbine outperformed its nearest competitor by a factor of more than 2 to 1, and it generates enough clean energy to erase the carbon footprint of the average four-person household.

The maker of the Endurance 50-kW says its turbine is ideal for larger farms, schools, hospitals and commercial/industrial sites, and will produce 100,000-250,000 kWh per year in appropriate winds.

Some have expressed concerns Ann Arbor isn't a good location for wind energy generation. The city's staff responded to those concerns at the Jan. 7 council meeting, saying the purpose of the project is not to construct a wind farm, but to demonstrate the viability of wind technology and use it as an educational tool for the community, including giving local students some hands-on experience.

Watch a video from LEEC of the Gaia 11-kW turbine in action:

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

Rejoice Ann Arbor, we are lucking that this is going in a poor wind area like ours. See below for what recently happened to one of these in high winds in the UK.

Roger Kuhlman

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 9:55 p.m.

The city of Ann Arbor again wastes a lot of money on an alternative energy project. Why does the political Left that controls this town always engage in environmental fantasy. Strip away the huge federal grants and other direct subsidies and the wind power generation project is a costly loser of money. Maybe left-wing activists like such projects because they put forth the appearance that they are doing something about our nation's severe energy and environmental problems. Whether that appearance is totally false does not matter to them in the least. I think politcally-opprotunistic leftists also like these projects because they can reward their crony capitalist friends in alternative energy businesses with funding.

Arno B

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Of course the project "Will be in good hands". That's what they are paid to say. "We expect to make money on it". Of course they will if they get the 2.5 cent per Kw recently rushed through. No one has mentioned this tax credit in the article nor who will get it. It was renewed for 2013 with other subsidies (such as a few million for the NASCAR organization) in the income tax on the rich passed by the recent (New Years Eve) pullback from the "Fiscal Cliff". What's new?

Great Lakes Lady

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

Health concerns due to high decibal levels: A friend of mine from the thumb area states that many of the farmers who have placed wind turbines on their properties have experienced increased health issues....possibly due to the constant low-level whirring noises. I haven't delved into any studies.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

As of 2004 California had over 13000 windmills about 3 times the size of this miniature, guess what my electricity bill in California has gone up more than double. Not only are they an eyesore but they have destroyed many beautiful and pristine areas around that state. Funny how the EPA will completely ignore their own restrictions and mandates when it comes to protecting the enviroment to promote their self serving cause?

Ivor Ivorsen

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

"...but they have destroyed many beautiful and pristine areas around that state." Can you please substantiate this claim?


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

On a dollars per per watt basis, this is by far and away the most expensive device of which I have ever heard (and I work in this field). Typical costs for power generating equipment run between $2-$5 per watt, with some renewables being slightly more costly. It is generally accepted that the cost has to be less than $5 per watt for the system to be economically viable. At this cost, it is simply not possible for the device to produce enough electricity to cover costs. If public funds are used, the city should be sued for wasting money.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

"his company plans to do about $253,000 worth of work on the project, which includes more than $94,000 worth of donated services" i'm skeptical... this sounds less like a 'donation'... and it sounds like you are being overpaid... and the company realizes it. so lets take some over the overpayment, donate it... and it will help us with taxes.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Where is the wind in Ann Arbor, except coming from the companies that manufacture the wind turbines and install them? Any wind map of Michigan shows the wind is along Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron. What king of energy boondoggle is this? Wasting tax-payer money!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

Anyone who is taking advantage of donated funds and government grants to create something that is clearly NO USE but to put money in their own pockets is a bad guy. What these guys are just as bad, if not worse, than corn ethanol farmers... Know what makes them absolute bad guys too? They KNOW what they're doing...they can't even claim ignorance...they KNOW they make huge big bucks because it's coming from tax coffers. You know his little wind company has a little over 10 employees in it......wrap your head around the profits they must be making...


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:10 a.m.

solar is the way to go in ann arbor. This is way to political already, just ask dte


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:53 a.m.

Seems to me there is plenty of wind in Ann Arbor to support this project, and that doesn't include all the hot air evidenced here!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

Great opportunity to make sarcastic comment about quality of education at a certain university given the wind maps provided in earlier comments... :)


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:30 a.m.

Put one of these bad boys up Only 9 times the cost, but 680 times more power that could handle 25% of the cities households.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:30 a.m.

And a nice 650ft wind turbine on the horizon

Dog Guy

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

Once in a while that big Whirlydoole will spin and light up its LED's and oooh we will all feel good oooh.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:35 a.m.

Stahl considers it a prime opportunity for the distributed wind energy industry in Michigan to show the public that wind energy is real and works, and he wants Ann Arborites to rest assured they're in good hands with experienced contractors lined up on the project. This will only be true if we get a full accounting. The $94,000 of "donated" work will not show up in total costs. Other incidentals will get bearied to make the project look better. We all know if this was not a gov grant this project would never have been commissioned. We are $16.6 Trillion in debt, we need to stop spending on projects just because they are political popular.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:37 a.m.

sorry, buried

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 12:59 a.m.

Shouldn't wind-powered generators be built where there's wind, not just where some city council wants to play "I'm greener than you?"

Kai Petainen

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

cross village turbine had issues with neighbors concerned of the decibel levels. documentation here: ryan... I agree... an article with regards to... 'is there enough wind?' is a good topic indeed.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

Has anyone else noticed in articles like this all the special purpose employees working for the city? It would seem that the city has a "senior utilities engineer". This implies that there are even more people involved in "utilities engineering" for the city. What do they do? Why don't we simply utilize the services of DTE or an occasional consultant instead of multiple full time employees? If the city were serious about cost controls they would know the answers to these type of questions. Want to bet on what type of "political speak" answer we'll get?


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

CORRECTION: Cross Village is on the EAST coast of Lake Michigan and close to Mackinac Bridge (Gads!)

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

Stahl tells me everything within LEEC's construction scope of work is organized and the company is ready to break ground this spring, though they're still waiting for contracts and schedules. He said the project team (city of Ann Arbor, CDM engineering, Wind Products Inc. and Lake Effect Energy Corp.) will need to expedite wind resource site reviews, and pre-construction activities can take several months. Some of the steps still to come: A public involvement process, preparation of preliminary and final soil erosion, sedimentation control and geotechnical investigation, development of an outreach program, local, state and national regulatory review, and a design survey of base engineering plans, structural design and environmental.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

Ryan, I reviewed DonBee's numbers and based on $0.16 per KW-H he is correct. I figure it would take 16.36 years of 24 hour per day wind just to break even, and that ignores both wind resources and maintenance cost! Totally unrealistic expenditure, even more unrealistic payback, and with non-US sourced parts it contributes the wrong way to our foreign trade imbalance. But boy will it be educational. It may delay local support for sustainable wind energy a decade or two! (Don't even ask how many AAPS students will be enthused to see a 50KW cycloconverter in operation, or will be allowed to climb to the generator nacelle.)


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:42 a.m.

Thank you, Ryan. The amount of wind available at the two sites and how much electricity the wind will cause to be produced by the type of turbines installed seems key to deciding if they will be worthwhile to build. After all, the city must invest $18,500 in personnel hours according to details in your earlier article. And I am sure that other financial contributions will be required of the city that may not be evident now.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

I'm planning to delve a little deeper into the issue of whether there's sufficient wind in a future story. It's definitely worth discussing.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

No, I personally wouldn't do those things.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

What about the issue of insufficient wind, Ryan? Would you build a hydroelectric plant where there is no water current? Or how about erecting solar panels inside a barn?


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

Solar cells make a lot more sense, as demonstrated by the Univ Mich recent installation on the south side of the intersection of Plymouth and Nixon Roads. But, No, the City Council has to trump the university by bringing Don Quixote devices to town. Of course, they will say, "It's not our money, it's Federal grant money." Guess what? It Is Our Money!!! Put windmills where the wind blows which is not in Ann Arbor (except at sessions of the City Council, if yins git my drift . . . ).


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

$18,500 would be contributed by Ann Arbor taxpayers for this project. Of course, other unexpected expenses will likely appear for which the city will have to pay if only by default. Once these wind turbines are installed they must be maintained. If Lake Effect Energy Corp. of Harbor Springs, Mich. and it's planning to partner with New York-based Wind Products Inc. can not make money from the wind turbine then I doubt that they will wish to maintain the useless towers. The city will not wish them to deteriorate to the point of being an eye-sore or risk ground contamination so will support a maintenance effort.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

ADDENDUM: Cross Village, where LEEC installed a Gaia 11-kW similar to that proposed for Ann Arbor, is located on the west coast of Lake Michigan near the Machinac Bridge. From the video, the wind appears stronger there than here.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 10:48 p.m.

WIND TURBINES WILL NOT WORK IN ANN ARBOR BUT WILL WASTE MONEY City Council woman Sabre Briere state the obvious at a previous City Council meeting reported by Ryan Stanton ( "We don't have the steady 13- or 14-mph winds that you really need in order to make this work. Our average wind is under 10 mph," she said, going on to ask: "Why are we doing this here?" To further this point, Kai Petainen posted the following comment to the Ryan Stanton article: "According to wind maps, Ann Arbor wind is about 5.5 to 6.0 m/s, BUT... that's on a windmill that is at 80m or 262 feet. The windmills in question for Ann Arbor would be at 100 to 140 feet. A map at 80m To be more realistic, at the 30 meter mark or 98 feet Ann Arbor gets wind at 4.0 m/s or less. A map at 30m And if we go back to that wind turbine that I had as an example, then it would produce less than 59,100 kWh. And it would produce practically nothing back to the electric grid." Why waste any Ann Arbor taxpayer money on demonstration wind turbines that will not operate? Students can learn from written materials and view functioning wind turbines in real time by webcams at the following websites:


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:30 a.m.

Ross- Excellent question for which a study should have provided an answer before committing to the project! However, short of a specific answer, if the average wind speed is insufficient to rotate the turbines which generate electricity then little electrical production can be expected. I believe that such a point was being made by Councilwoman Briere and by Kai Petainen in several of her erudite and referenced comments in Stanton's previous article as well as in this one.


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

Answer a question for me. If location "A" was deemed good for wind power production, what % of that wind power availability would you deem the cut-off point for what is viable or not?


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 10:28 p.m.

61 KW for 1.4 million dollars? LOL That is right around $22 a watt. Given that DTE sells 1000 hours of a watt for about $0.16 (16 cents) to residential customers, the pay back period on these turbines will be 17 years if and only if they make power 24/7/36 and require zero maintenance. Given that the wind blows enough to make energy in Ann Arbor less than 20 percent of the time the payback is almost 100 years. Great investment!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

It's '0.16/W/hr' , did you do you calculations properly ?


Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 11:53 p.m.

you forgot to add in the cost of the power plant into the cost DTE charges, granted it is spread over a number of years but your math is not quite correct.

Kai Petainen

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

"He noted his company recently finished commissioning a Gaia turbine, just like the one being considered here in Ann Arbor, in Cross Village." Exactly. Cross Village. By Lake Michigan. Where there is wind! Look at the map. Find Cross Village. See, it's near wind. Here's a map. Plus, I was looking up the cost of these windmills online -- I have no idea how they would cost $1.4 million.

Top Cat

Tue, Jan 22, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

And be thankful coal and gas are being burned somewhere right now to keep us all warm. Pin wheels are endearing but hardly economical or effective.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:25 a.m.

Ivor the thing is you need 100% backup for times when the wind isn't blowing. If you had storage facilities like the pumping station in Ludington it would work.

Ivor Ivorsen

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

Really? The state of Iowa currently produces about 20% of its electricity from wind turbines. I highly recommend a trip on i-80 west of Des Moines.