If Oregon City Schools’ board of education gives its approval next week, blades could be spinning in the wind at Clay High School in the coming months as part of a new multimillion-dollar turbine project to increase educational research and supply electricity.
During its meeting last week, the board discussed details of the project that would install two 750-kilowatt turbines at the school. To be leased by the district, the turbines are expected to meet 90 percent to 100 percent of electricity needs on Clay’s campus, including at the administration building and bus garage.
A decision on whether to proceed with the project could be reached during the board’s June 23 meeting at 6 p.m. in Clay High School’s media center.
The school district is ready to go with the project, but legal documents and other paperwork were still being drawn up last week, said Dean Sandwisch, director of business affairs. Without that paperwork in place, the board of education declined to take action on whether to proceed.
The board could say no, but Mr. Sandwisch said he doesn’t foresee that happening.
If the board approves the project, the two turbines could be in place by the end of the year or in early 2012, Mr. Sandwisch said.
SUREnergy of Sandusky has been lining up financing for the project.
Among those attending the meeting last week were John Fellhauer, SUREnergy’s chief of mnufacturing; Bryan Rathbun, the company’s assistant director of sales; Beth Amburgy, its chief financial officer, and Maria Armstrong, a lawyer with the Columbus law firm Bricker & Eckler.
Mr. Sandwisch said turbines at Clay would be the first step in the project, and officials could decide to install two 100-kilowatt turbines at Eisenhower Middle School later. It’s possible, he said, that one 100-kilowatt turbine, or maybe two, would be installed at Jerusalem Elementary School.
Plans for turbines at Coy Elementary School have been put on hold for now, he said.
Cost for the Clay project is estimated at $4 million; if turbines are added at two other Oregon schools, the cost could be in the $7 million range, he said.
SUREnergy and investors would own the turbines for 15 years through a limited liability corporation, and in year 16, the district would have the option to purchase the machines at fair market value. If the district decided against the purchase, it would purchase power that the machines produce, Mr. Sandwisch said, noting that price would be less than market rates.
Over the turbines’ 25-year lifespan, the district’s savings could be between about $4 million and nearly $6.7 million, according to projections presented to the board by Mr. Sandwisch last week.
Mr. Sandwisch said the project makes sense educationally, and it will be up to the school board to decide whether it makes financial sense.
SUREnergy has committed $200,000 to aid in a possible tight cash flow in the first years of the lease.
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