RES proposes renewable energy for Baraga


Jackie Jahfetson

A wind farm with the capacity to power approximately 54,000 Michigan average-size homes is proposed to start construction in 2020 near Marquette.

The recently proposed Summit Lake Wind Project will be designed by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) 5 miles east of L’Anse in Baraga County and consist of 35 to 55 wind turbines, each towering as high as 492 feet. RES is a global renewable energy company that has been constructing large-scale renewable energy projects for the past 30 years.

The construction would produce up to 300 jobs, with eight full-time staff positions available after completion, according to the project’s website In the long run, the operation of the project would increase overall employment in the area. In the first 25 years in operation, an estimated $34 million in taxes would be distributed to the local community with approximately $2.5 million in the first year of operation.

“We looked at the layout and thought this looked like an interesting project,” said RES Senior Development Manager Mason Sorenson. “This part of the country is going through some changes electrically with coal, natural gas and the high price of electricity.” Sorenson spoke about the project to a variety of students, professors and community members last Friday in Jamrich in the monthly discussion series “Climate at Noon.” Sorenson, who serves as a spokesman for the project, explained how the community and environment would benefit from this project.

Currently, RES is holding informational meetngs with locals and conducting surveys with towers to gather information on wind speed and weather patterns while monitoring local bird species
through surveillance cameras, Sorenson said.

The land is owned by Weyerhaeuser Co., one of the world’s largest private owners of timberlands. RES has worked with Weyerhaeuser on several projects in states such as Washington and North Carolina with timber harvesting landscapes, Sorenson said. “It seemed like an interesting opportunity to partner with Weyerhaeuser on this,” Sorenson added.

Though the renewable energy project would require an approximate 25- mile transmission line, RES strives to meet environmental standards while exemplifying sustainable forestry, he

Although Sorenson’s presentation mainly focused on the advantages of the project, he addressed many of the audience’s concerns, like whether the wind turbines will have an effect on big bird species (eagles and hawks) and how many acres of land will be utilized to build the turbines. According to Sorenson, there is misinformation and controversial opinions on this project and it’s important to talk about those concerns in a open discussion, he said.

For audience members like senior and public relations major Jlyn Jorgenson, the discussion was not only interesting but it helped deliver the information to the community while laying many “rumors” to rest, she said.

As a L’Anse native, Jorgenson said she hopes to redeliver Sorenson’s message by educating others about this project.

“It’s great to open up and have face-to-face communication with a company,” Jorgenson said. “This company is trying to bring renewable energy to everybody and it’s a company that actually cares.”

For more information about the Summit Wind Lake Project, visit