The Stockton East Water District’s giant windmill plan is a no-blow.
The district last month ended talks with an energy company that hoped to build a windmill towering over the treatment plant on East Main Street, east of Stockton.
The 260-foot-tall turbine would have provided the energy needed to lift millions of gallons of river water each day into the treatment plant and pipe that water to storage towers and homes across Stockton.
But there was one problem.
A detailed review of the district’s energy use every 15 minutes over one year showed that its greatest demand for energy came during the summer, when Stocktonians demand the most water.
The winds, however, top out during the winter.
And so Stockton East’s board of directors voted to discontinue negotiations.
San Francisco-based Foundation Windpower would have constructed the windmill and then sold power to Stockton East at a rate cheaper than Pacific Gas and Electric Co. would.
The district would have had to pay for about $120,000 in infrastructure improvements to connect to the new power source, and it would have taken eight or nine years at the discounted rate just to break even, said John Green, the district’s assistant general manager.
This doesn’t mean Stockton East’s hunt for alternative energy is over.
The district wants to reduce its roughly $1 million annual utility bill, its largest expense after salaries and chemicals used to treat drinking water.
“This didn’t work out, but as a big electricity user, everyone is always knocking on our door,” Green said. “We’re taking a breath now and looking around” for other options.
Foundation Windpower has already built one windmill at Teichert Aggregates sand and gravel plant south of Tracy. Large turbines are also being installed at the Safeway distribution center in Tracy.
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