Fayette schools receive wind turbine grant 3.25.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Fayette school superintendent Russ Griggs believes that wind power makes a lot of sense for the school district—especially with the proper funding.

Griggs learned earlier this month that a $200,000 grant was awarded by the Ohio Department of Development through the Renewable Energy Incentives program. A letter from the Ohio Energy Office told Griggs that his proposal was accepted.

The district has about $500,000 remaining from construction of the new school through the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC). Griggs would like to add that to the wind turbine project.

Use of the OSFC funds is limited by project regulations and Griggs sees the turbine as a much better option than sending the money back to Columbus.

If all of the OSFC funds were applied to the project, the district would still be about $250,000 short. Griggs is applying for additional funds through the federal stimulus project.

Failing that, Griggs would push for a loan, with payback coming through the energy savings realized through wind power.

Working with a consultant, Griggs has learned that the 250 kW turbine could lead to a savings of around $50,000 annually with an average wind of 5.5 miles per hour.

Griggs told the board of education last week the district has spent about $103,000 so far this fiscal year and should end up with total electrical costs of $130,000.

Fayette joins the Archbold and Pettisville school districts in a joint effort to receive stimulus funding, although Fayette has a different plan for its funds.

“Our project is different from Archbold and Pettisville,” Griggs said. “They’re looking at much larger turbines. I don’t think we’re in the public utilities business; we’re in the education business.”

The other districts plan to generate excess electricity to sell, he said.

Griggs is looking at a machine manufactured by the Dutch company Wind Energy Solutions.

“They have a good track record and their turbines have been installed all over the world,” Griggs said. “The consultant we are working with is currently visiting the company in the Netherlands.”

Most leading manufacturers are located outside the United States since wind power has been used in many countries for several years. Griggs said the consultant will speak to the company about establishing a manufacturing facility in Ohio.

The 250 kW turbine being considered stands 131 feet tall (40 meters), with a pair of blades that measure about 100 feet from tip to tip. Archbold is considering a turbine producing at least 600 kW. The large turbines standing near Bowling Green are capable of producing 1.5 mW.

The noise produced by the turbine is rated at 45 decibels at a distance of 300 meters. Normal conversation is rated between 50 and 65 dB.

Griggs said a proposal at the University of Toledo features the same turbine.

“The board of education has been very supportive of the project, as well as the Village of Fayette,” Griggs said. “The district has a permit to install the unit as soon as it is possible.”

A wind turbine would save the district cash, Griggs said, but it will also make an important statement to students and district residents.

“It would serve as an example and educational tool for students to firsthand witness alternative energy in their back yard,” he said. “Northwest Ohio has a great potential to produce energy from wind power and Fayette Local Schools wish to be part of the future.”

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