A lot has changed in the two years since Michigan passed its energy reform law in the fall of 2008. This prompted us to review our renewable energy plan in the context of the latest market conditions. As a result, last month we filed an updated plan with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) that proposes lowering costs for electric customers by about $55 million per year.
This revised plan reflects changing economic conditions, improvements in wind turbine technology, acceleration of renewable energy projects, and the extension of the production tax credit. These were some of the factors which led to the proposed reduction in the renewable energy surcharge applied to customer bills. The proposal must first be approved by the MPSC.
None of this changes our commitment to have renewable sources provide 10 percent of the electricity we deliver to customers in 2015, as prescribed by the state’s energy reform law. Last year, about 5 percent of the electricity we supplied to our 1.8 million customers came from renewable sources. Currently we are the largest provider of renewable energy in the state.
Plans are still moving forward for our 100-megawatt Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County. This is our first wind park which we hope to will begin operation in late 2012. An economic impact study for this construction project estimates that the total direct and indirect economic benefits to Michigan would be $132 million. The number of construction jobs for the project is expected to peak at about 150 workers.
Plans are still in the works for our second wind park in Tuscola County. Cross Winds Energy Park has a planned generating capacity of 150-megawatts and is scheduled for operation in 2014.
The updated plan also includes renewable energy purchase agreements with independent developers, including several landfill-energy and wind projects, as well as one project demonstrating an innovative wind turbine design built in Saginaw. The MPSC previously approved these agreements.