Settlement OK'd from wind turbine maker 2013.11.20

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The saga of Fayette's troublesome wind turbine is moving toward an end, but Superintendent of Schools Erik Belcher hopes it isn't over yet. 

A cash settlement from the turbine manufacturer was accepted by board members at a special meeting Friday, but Belcher is looking for additional funds from other partners involved in the turbine project.

The turbine manufacturer, Netherlands-based Wind Energy Solutions (WES), offered Fayette Local Schools 222,000 euros to buy back the turbine, tower and associated equipment, and up to 7,500 euros to pay for disassembling the turbine and tower and loading it onto a truck.

The euros will convert to about $300,000, depending on fluctuating currency rates. That amount varied between $292,000 and $310,000 during the last week.

No specific timeline was given by WES, but Belcher's understanding is that removal will begin as soon as possible.

The money cannot be placed in the general fund, he said, and will likely remain in a maintenance fund for future school building needs.

An additional sum of about $12,000 remains in an open purchase order for the turbine project, said district treasurer Kelly Bentley. That brings the total to more than $312,000 of the $400,000 of school district money that was used in the project.

The turbine was in operation for about 27 months starting in late winter, 2011, but during many of those months the equipment was out of service due to malfunctions. In the few months that it did produce power, the district saved nearly $40,000 in electrical costs and in credit through the sale of electricity.

The $1.1 million project was funded through a $200,000 Ohio Department of Development grant, $486,953 in funds left over from the school building project, and $399,047 of school district funds.

"We're just finalizing one part this process at this time," Belcher said. "This isn't over with yet. There were many people involved in the project."

Belcher said the driving force at this time is to recover the funds invested by the school.

During the construction of Fayette's new school, Kent Buehrer of the Buehrer Group architectural firm, noted the strong winds that blew across the school property and he told school superintendent Russ Griggs that the site would make an excellent location for a wind turbine. Griggs liked the idea and began investigating financing options.

The turbine was installed in late 2010 and came with a five-year warranty. At the dedication ceremony in December 2010, the turbine stood as the largest wind energy facility owned by a public school in Ohio. 

Johan De Leeuw of WES told the audience that the 250 kW turbine would remain on the landscape for at least 20 years and would generate about 40 percent of the school's electrical needs.

The unit functioned correctly until October 2011 when the generator had to be removed by a crane and taken to a shop for an inspection. Several weeks later, the unit was functioning again, but additional intermittent problems emerged during the next year and a half.

The turbine had been in service when a four-foot section of a blade broke off in April 2013 and was found in the woods on the school property. Both blades were then removed from the turbine and since then, haggling has continued over responsibility for the problems.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017