A Carpentersville-based school district OK’d funds to study a $6 million wind turbine project that could provide enough electricity to power two schools, cutting energy costs, officials said Tuesday.
Though it could take as long as three years to get a turbine up and running, officials with School District 300 say it would save about $250,000 annually. “We think it’s in the best interest of ecology, and in the long run it will help us save money,” Supt. Kenneth Arndt said after the district approved spending $55,000 to study the feasibility of building a massive windmill on the grounds of a new high school in Hampshire.
The district’s proposal joins a handful of others already under consideration in the Chicago area as local governments and organizations search for cleaner ways to generate electricity and trim utility bills.
Earlier this year, Keeneyville School District 20 proposed building a 250-foot-tall windmill in Hanover Park, and two miniature turbines have been proposed for the roof of the Richard J. Daley Center in downtown Chicago.
But even as turbines have become an increasingly popular source of generating electricity, one expert cautioned that proposals such as those in Hampshire and Keeneyville face obstacles that could knock the wind out of their plans.
The Chicago-based Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, a group that invests in clean energy development and land preservation, said before anything is constructed, a yearlong study must be done to determine whether there is enough wind in the area to make a turbine viable.
“There is not adequate wind everywhere to make this work,” said James Mann, the group’s executive director, whose organization advocates wind power.
Moreover, because communities around the nation want to build wind turbines by the hundreds, finding a manufacturer willing to build just one will be tough, he said.
He said about 20 local governments and organizations from across Illinois have called to inquire about wind energy.
A grant from Mann’s group will pay for 60 percent of the District 300 feasibility study, said Cheryl Crates, the district’s chief financial officer.
If built, officials estimate, the Hampshire turbine would generate about 1.5 megawatts – enough energy to power about 500 homes, said David Ulm, District 300’s energy management coordinator.
Preliminary plans call for constructing a turbine about 225 to 350 feet tall with 100-foot-long blades, officials said.
By Ray Quintanilla, Tribune staff reporter
Freelancer Tim Kane contributed to this report
14 November 2007
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