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Sherrard board discusses wind turbines  

On Jan. 23 the Sherrard Community School District school board held an informational meeting regarding the wind turbine project to be installed on the Sherrard Junior-Senior High School grounds in June of 2008. School superintendent Bob Gillum, and Steve Tagert of Ameresco, the planning and development company, presented a Power Point presentation and answered audience questions.

Attendance at the meeting was less than expected, with most of the questions being posed by surrounding neighbors; who questioned noise, safety and accessibility among other concerns. Tagert explained that the turbine chosen for the project is a brand called Fuhrlaender, which is 50 meters high (164.041 994 751 feet tall or approximately 30 stories tall) with an average wind speed of 6.78, and 33 percent net capacity factor. This particular turbine most closely matched the energy needs of the school; and dozens of this same size and brand have been installed throughout the world. Bureau Valley school district has the same size turbine, though a different brand which is no longer in production; more information and pictures of the turbine are available on the website for the school, http://www.bhsroe.k12.il.us/bureauvalley/bvhs/windturbine.htm

Tagert also explained that the turbine will run about 30 percent of the time; if it is too windy the turbine will shut itself down for safety. He noted it has a variable speed rotor generator and incorporates state of the art technology.

A neighbor to the school noted concern that the noise could be carried on the wind, especially in winter months when deciduous trees lose their green and don’t buffet the sound.

Tagert assured neighbors the turbine makes a swooshing sound, and would not be so loud as the noise found at a wind farm; assuring students would not be able to hear the turbine inside the school, nor would anyone be able to hear the noise at the front of the school property. He noted there are set back requirements; zoning rules and best practices are always put into place for the location plans. School board superintendent Bob Gillum noted that the turbine does have “ice throws” during freezing months, and that there was much he has learned in the research of the project. Tagert advised the turbine would be inside locked fencing, has a locked, vault door and can only be climbed on the inside. The turbine will be installed on the rear of the school property, where currently a shot put pad was recently installed for the track team.

The turbine will sit on a pad of concrete measuring 40 x 40 feet, with a depth of 80â deep.

The financials of the project are:

Project cost $2,180,608.00

Grant $420,00.00

Legal fees $30,00.00

Total financed $1,790,608.00

CREBS amount $1,300,00.00

Interest rate 1.75 percent

Tax exempt financed amount $490,608.00

Tax exempt interest rate 4.00 percent

Finance Terms 10 yrs.

Combined interest rate 2.44 percent

Energy savings for first year $86,428.00

Saving escalation 2.00 percent

Annual Contribution $109,701.67

Cumulative contribution $1,097,016.73

It was said that any excess energy created could be sold back to MidAmerican Energy Company for .02 or .03 cents per kilowatt-hour. As well, installing the turbine allows the school to be eligible for tax credits that can be sold to other corporations for use, since the school is a tax-exempt facility. Superintendent Gillum noted that he hoped current corporate partners, or suppliers, would be forthcoming in interest of purchasing the credits from the school. Rebecca Irwin of Sherrard asked if there are any estimates yet of how much the credits could be sold for, or if there are any corporate buyers already showing interest.

Tagert advised there are actually companies who will go out and find corporations interested in purchasing tax credits; but the purchase price would be determined at the time.

Another audience member questioned the Boards financial plans for the turbine; mentioning the upcoming Tax Increment Financing, and future development in the area in regards to possible increases in student population.

Superintendent Gillum said that it has been considered and that Coyne Center Elementary School is still a perfectly good building in use for the pre-school program and can be easily converted back into a usable full-time school building if needed in the future. Gillum also noted that the incentive grants for the turbine are available this year only, so the turbine must be done this year. Gillum also said that many school districts, Rockridge for example, had applied for but were not eligible for the grant after wind speed and resource information was considered in the application for the grant.

Tagert said that wind data was gathered from Monmouth College also in Henry County as well as at the school, to make sure there would be enough wind.

Gillum said that the school board currently budgets $165,000 dollars annually for energy use at the junior-senior high school and to keep in mind the board hopes to save a little over $86,000 a year in costs with the turbine; after the note is paid back in ten years the money will be profit for the district. It was also noted that the price of Euro keeps increasing over the American Dollar, thus the prices of the turbines also increase, as American money must be converted for payment of the turbine.

Gillum said that purchase price has increased 28 percent over the last year, from when the school board first began researching the turbines due to the increase in value of Euro.

Tagert advised that the estimated operations and maintenance costs would be between $10,000 to $23,000 annually. Tagert expects as other turbines are put into operation in the area, annual operation and maintenance costs should decline. It was also advised that there is a standard warranty on the turbine, but the length of the warranty was not available at the time of the meeting; and that extended warranty and maintenance contracts can be purchased. Briefly noted, the turbine would be covered under the schools liability insurance.

The installation plan is as follows:

March, 2007 – turbine will be ordered

Electric Engineering Design to be completed also in March, 2007

Transportation Study (to deliver the turbine) to be completed in May, 2007

Turbine shipped to Sherrard Junior-Senior High School May, 2008

Turbine installation to begin in June, 2008

Superintendent Gillum also noted the turbine will have academic value; as classes may be able to monitor energy production and utilization, grid sales as well as purchase and production and also compare and contrast financial savings among a host of other things. Gillum noted that in the future the tower may be utilized for an area-wide wi-fi (wireless fidelity) computer network.

Published: Tuesday, February 6, 2007

aledotimesrecord.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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