Zeeland removing wind turbines after several issues

Ottawa County

HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Wind turbines in Helder Park in Holland Township are being torn down.

The city of Zeeland built the turbines in 2009 in an effort to use more sustainable energy.

The turbines were placed outside the city limits due to zoning issues. The park was chosen by engineers who believed it was the best place to generate wind.

It cost the city about $457,000. Right after the turbines went up, the city says things went downhill.

An Aug. 1, 2019 photo shows crews working to remove wind turbines from Helder Park in Zeeland.
An Aug. 1, 2019 photo shows crews working to remove wind turbines from Helder Park in Zeeland.

“Shortly after that, the manufacturer of those units went out of business,” said Andrew Boatright with the city’s public works department.

Boatright says it made finding parts to repair the turbines nearly impossible and incredibly costly.

“The maintenance issues were a big problem. In 2014, there was a significant period of no operation,” Boatright added. “It just got to a point where they became a maintenance concern and a safety hazard.”

Boatright says there was an instance where break tips fell off one of the turbines and landed in a nearby field.

He says on top of safety and maintenance concerns — the turbines were barely generating energy.

Over a 20-year period, the turbines were expected to create enough energy to pay off the almost half-million dollars used to build them. At the near halfway mark, it’s not even close to that goal, Boatright said.

An Aug. 1, 2019 photo shows crews working to remove wind turbines from Helder Park in Zeeland.
An Aug. 1, 2019 photo shows crews working to remove wind turbines from Helder Park in Zeeland.

“It started as a state mandate,” said Zeeland Mayor Kevin Klynstra. “The BPW (Zeeland Board of Public Works) has to be 15% renewable energy and that was pretty much the reason for the wind turbine. It’s too bad those didn’t work out.”

Klynstra says while the turbines weren’t successful, the city is already working on alternative methods of renewable energy.

“It’s the future. Everybody wants green power. We’re trying to get as much as we can and continuing to look at different ways we can get it,” he said. “But it’s not easy.”

Public works officials say they’ve already started working on using wind sources, solar energy and landfill gas.

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