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DTE turbines turning wind into clean, renewable energy

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PIGEON, Mich. (WJBK) -

Catching a breeze takes on a whole new meaning in Michigan's thumb area where turbines are turning wind into clean, renewable energy.

"When you build a wind turbine, all the pollution created to make that turbine is offset within three months by clean energy," said Mark Serafin, DTE Energy's program manager for wind development.

He shared some interesting facts about these energy-making giants. While they look like they're turning slowly, they're actually spinning at 200 mph. They need winds up to 7 mph to start making electricity.

You don't get a sense of how enormous the turbines are until you stand up close to them. The blades are 150 feet long, and from the highest point, this tower is the size of a 50-story building.

"The technology is improving, so we're able to capture more wind," said Serafin.

Each turbine generates enough juice to power 500 homes. DTE has close to 70 operating right now, and 69 more under construction. It costs about $250 million to build a wind park like the one in the thumb, but Serafin says it would cost much more to build a new coal-burning power plant.

Farmers and individual landowners must give permission, and not everyone likes them. But those who do are compensated with a $10,000 disturbance payment, $5,000 per acre, and royalties.

"It's their land," said Serafin. "They want to know what's going on and want to make sure we're taking care of their real estate."

They did a two-year bird study to make sure not to disturb flight patterns. And they comply with noise and distance from homes regulations.

Construction of the newest wind park is expected to be completed by the end of the year as DTE works to comply with the state's standard: 10% renewable energy by 2015.

Online: Wind Energy in Michigan

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