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County moves ahead with wind turbine study

Several local governmental entities are moving ahead with a wind turbine feasibility study that will determine if the county is a viable location for a wind turbine.

Mark Jackson with the Interstate R C & D, writer of the grant, was on hand at the Mercer County Courthouse Nov. 17 to visit with the governmental bodies. Representatives from The Mercer County Board, Mercer County Hospital, Mercer County Nursing Home and the Aledo School District were present to discuss the future of their joint endeavor.

The collaboration was the beneficiary of a $14,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and will have the EAPC conduct the study. The EAPC has been the lead engineer in several other projects that have received approval to start building wind turbines.

The study should be completed in six to eight weeks. Computer models as well as archived data retrieved from the airport and local wind data will be used.

“It will take another month for them to get the report to us,” said Jackson. “They have from Nov. 1 until Oct. 31, 2007 to complete the test.”

The next step will be the financing to construct the tower.

The entities are looking at 2008 as the earliest the project would be completed and the tower up and functional.

The government entities use a combined 3.7 million kilowatt hours per year at an annual cost of $350,000. They feel the investment will pay for itself in 10 years. By then there will be well over $400,000 per year in savings.

The Bureau Valley School District put a wind turbine up two years ago and is already saving money. Bureau Valley started saving $40,000 per year as soon as the turbine was put up, according to Aledo School District superintendent Alan Boucher.

Since the hospital and nursing home operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is anticipated they will save more money once it is up and running.

By Robert Blackford

GHM Group