CLEVELAND, Ohio – The city has begun monitoring wind conditions at two different sites in the hope of someday building giant wind turbines to generate power.
Monitoring towers measuring 60 meters – nearly 200 feet – were erected earlier this month at the Garrett A. Morgan Water Treatment Plant just west of downtown Cleveland and at Jergens Inc. on South Waterloo Road near East 152nd Street.
Andrew Watterson, chief of sustainability for the city, said the towers will monitor wind conditions for about a year to determine if the locations are suitable for large industrial turbines.
“Getting wind data helps you make sure you’re getting the right turbine for that site,” Watterson said.
Cleveland’s goal is to build two 1.5 megawatt turbines at the Morgan treatment plant, which would provide a significant share of the plant’s power needs when the wind is blowing, Watterson said. Estimated cost for one turbine that size is $3 million, Watterson said.
If the data from the South Waterloo Road site is good, the city could consider building turbines at its water treatment plant off Lake Shore Boulevard as well, Watterson said. There also have been discussions about putting a wind turbine at the city’s Ridge Road Transfer Station.
Cleveland doesn’t necessarily have to build the turbines, Watterson said. It could seek a developer to build them and buy whatever power is generated.
Total cost for the monitoring towers, data collection and a subsequent study is about $100,000, Watterson said. The project is being funded by the city, foundations and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.
Jergens Inc. owner Jack Schron allowed the city to erect the wind tower on the property to determine whether a turbine would be feasible for that site.
A 1.5-megawatt turbine would not provide all of Jergens’ power needs when the plant, which produces parts for manufacturing facilities, runs at full capacity. But during off-peak hours, a turbine could make the plant’s electric meter run backward as it sends power onto the grid, Schron said.
“What I see is a wind win-win,” Schron said.
He thinks it would be impressive for people driving into Cleveland to see wind turbines looming above. His plant was built on a site that was once part of the Collinwood railroad yard, which Schron said produced its own power years ago. He said he hoped Jergens’ neighbors, the Cleveland Food Bank and Sodexho, might find support from local foundations for their own wind turbines.
Watterson said the idea of building wind turbines in Cleveland is not just about producing energy.
“The more we can help to build Cleveland as a center for wind energy and wind technology, we show that we have the opportunities to create jobs and economic development,” Watterson said.
On Thursday, Cuyahoga County commissioners awarded a $1.4 million contract to Phillips Electric for a refurbished wind turbine to be built at the county fairgrounds in Berea. The $2.1 million project will be paid for primarily with federal stimulus grants and is expected to save the county $50,000 in electricity costs a year at the fairgrounds, less $20,000 for annual maintenance costs.
The county is awaiting word on one of the grants. It can cancel the purchase if the grant does not come through.
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