The Corporate Commission of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe has become a major investor in a wind turbine project that could create up to 15 jobs in District II of the Mille Lacs Reservation in Minnesota, which includes areas near McGregor.
The Corporate Commission’s investment in Mariah Power – a manufacturer that provides low-cost, vertical wind turbines for residential and commercial use – allows it to have a three-year contract to assemble wind turbine parts at a facility located in District II.
The facility, which will initially be housed in the former McGregor
skating rink building, will first produce generators used for the
Mariah Power wind turbines –called Windspires. The Windspire is unlike
traditional wind turbines that feature rotating blades, similar to an
airplane propeller. Instead, the 30-foot tall Windspire is
propeller-free and generates wind power by spinning on a center pole.
The design also makes the Windspire almost noise-free.
About seven employees will be needed for the McGregor facility’s
startup, with possibilities to add more employees in the future. The
facility is expected to start production in May 2009.
In early 2010, the facility is projected to start producing the
inverters that are used for the wind turbines. Inverters take the power
produced by the Windspires and convert it to a form that can be used to
power homes, businesses, and other facilities. This production is
expected to need double the number of employees. Products assembled at
the District II facility will be shipped to Manistee, Mich., where the
Windspires will be assembled.
The Mille Lacs Corporate Commission’s investment in Mariah Power
resulted from the District II East Lake Economic Summit held in
November 2008, which was organized by Corporate Commission development
staff and a committee of District II Band members who are volunteering
to help identify and pursue potential business opportunities that would
create economic development in their community.
The committee assessed six business opportunities and gathered
community input at the summit. With the guidance of the Corporate
Commission, the committee focused its first priority on developing a
residential wind power project.
“I could not be more pleased with the immediate path we took to get to
this investment. Band members chose this, which will further their
long-awaited goal of bringing economic development to the East Lake
community,” said Sarah Oquist,
Commissioner of Corporate Affairs for the Corporate Commission. “In
addition to being a community selection, this investment aligns with
our overall value of environmental responsibility.”
In addition to the investment in Mariah Power, the Mille Lacs Band’s
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will install one of the
manufacturer’s vertical Windspires near the Band’s East Lake
Community Center. The DNR will initially study the Windspire’s energy
output at this location and examine possibilities for using the
technology with Band homes and facilities.
“The Mille Lacs Band is excited to have a Windspire on the reservation,
and we look forward to exploring more ways to enhance our use of
renewable energy sources,” said Andrew Boyd, Environmen-tal and
Ecosystem Technician for the Mille Lacs Band.
“This is another example of our efforts to protect the environment,
which is a valuable part of the Band’s culture,” said Curt Kalk, Mille
Lacs Band Commissioner of Natural Resources.
The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is a self-governing, federally recognized
Indian tribe located in East Central Minnesota. The Band has more than
4,000 enrolled members, for whom it provides a wide variety of programs