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City takes next step in wind turbine project for waste water plant

El Dorado, Kan. – The city of El Dorado is moving ahead with plans to put a wind turbine in at the El Dorado Wetland and Water Reclamation Facility.

The El Dorado City Commission approved, 5-0, moving ahead with the project at their Monday evening meeting.

“I believe this is an exciting day in El Dorado to potentially add renewable energy to a project, the El Dorado Wetlands and Water Reclamation Facility,” said Kurt Bookout, public utilities director. “This seems like a natural next step. If we proceed with it we will be the first waste water treatment facility to get 100 percent of its energy from wind.

“The great thing about this is that it is feasible and it does make financial sense to do it.”

In preparation for this project, there was a feasibility study conducted and before the city could get a $250,000 Department of Energy grant, they had get an environmental assessment. Both of those thing are complete with the finding of “no significant impact.”

There are some requirements with the grant, such as the turbine has to be made in the United States. It will operate in winds of 8.9 to 56 miles per hour and can withstand winds up to 123 miles per hour.

The height of it would be about 230 feet to the cell that runs the blades and the top of the blade tips is 326 feet. It would have two blades, each weighing 60 tons.

The engineer’s estimate for the turbine and design work is $2,223,650. There also was a cost of $9,850 for the feasibility study. The city would received the $250,000 grant, as well as $100,000 in green energy credits, making the city’s total cost $1,883,500. The annual operation and maintenance costs are expected to be $17,050.

Bookout said the facility’s energy costs went up 11 percent last year and looking to the future there is a lot of uncertainty in the markets.

Looking at a 2.5 increase in rates over the next 20 years, the city would spend $3,448,529 on electricity through Westar, and Bookout said he thinks the actual electricity increases would be closer to 5 percent.

The debt on the turbine would be paid from the money alloted for the utility bills, which would be just about identical to the payments. The city would have to pay for electricity when the wind was not generating electricity, but when it generates 125 percent of what is needed to run the plant, they could sell some of that back to Westar. The city also could sell its wind energy credits. With those figures, the debt could be paid off in 8 1/2 years with no increase in taxes.

Another unique part of this project is the company that would make the turbine wants to use El Dorado as their poster child to market wind turbines for cities. If that were to happen, the city might be able to receive discounts on maintenance or other things to benefit the city.

“It appears to be a very good decision to build a wind turbine,” Bookout said.