The Erie School District finally is on track to get its $3.5 million wind turbine built.
Superintendent Mike Ryan said the school district is moving the location for its wind turbine. The location had been a point of contention with farmer Luke Besse, who didn’t want blades from the wind turbine traveling over his farmland’s airspace.
Mr. Ryan said while the new site has yet to be determined, it’s been tentatively planned for about 60 to 70 feet northeast of the original site.
The original site was at the southwest corner of the middle school, just south of the football field.
The new foundation location will be based on soil samples and engineering analysis. Once the site is determined, excavation work could start in mid December, Mr. Ryan said.
Johnson Controls, Moline, has been overseeing the project. Approved by the school district in the spring of 2006, the 1.2 megawatt tower was expected to be in place by the fall of 2006.
There were various delays, including transporting the equipment from the east coast to school district property. The equipment arrived during the summer.
The latest delay was with Mr. Besse.
Mr. Ryan said Johnson Controls has agreed to assume the costs of moving the turbine. He said once the turbine is up and running, officials estimate it will save the district $5.5 million in energy costs over the next 30 years.
Once the new site is determined, Mr. Ryan anticipates construction will start in the next few weeks. “We will work through the winter and do whatever it takes. One nice thing is we have all the parts here.”
Mr. Ryan said the construction schedule will become more clear after the Dec. 17 school board meeting. “One of the things Johnson is checking and double checking is with the engineering before the earth is turned over.”
He hopes to have the wind turbine up and running in the early months of 2008.
Mr. Besse was seeking compensation because the turbine’s blades would have traveled over his property’s airspace. It was unclear how far the 95-foot blades would go over his property. He questioned why he wasn’t contacted by Johnson Control before plans for the site were approved.
“I’d like to resolve this so they can go ahead with the project,” Mr. Besse said in October.
He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
By Stephen Elliott
6 December 2007
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