CEDAR RAPIDS – The Kirkwood board of trustees delayed accepting the low bid for the construction of a wind turbine generator and associated site preparation after discovering this week that the turbine model the college wants is not available in the needed time.
Kirkwood plans a 2.5-megawatt wind turbine on its Cedar Rapids campus, which would be among the largest wind turbines at any college in the United States. The board was to accept the low bid for construction of the turbine at its meeting Thursday afternoon.
But Kirkwood officials this week heard from Clipper Windpower in Cedar Rapids there are engineering issues with the C100 model the college wanted to purchase, Tom Kaldenberg, executive director of facilities management for Kirkwood, told the trustees. That model likely won’t be available in time for Kirkwood to have it installed by March 1, 2012. The $5 million total price tag for the project includes $1 million in grant money from the federal government that must be spent by that date, Kaldenberg said, so there is a tight timeline.
So Kirkwood officials are talking with Clipper about instead buying the C96 model wind turbine, though that has slightly smaller blades and is less efficient than the C100, which will impact the 20-year payback costs on the project, Kaldenberg said. In that time, the C96 model would produce about $500,000 less revenue in sold electricity than the C100 model would, he said. The budget projection shows the college breaking even with the planned C100 model turbine in the first 10 years, and making $250,000 per year on sold electricity back to Alliant in the following 10 years, he said.
“We’re in discussions with Clipper” about the cost of the C96, he said.
Officials said they hope to have the necessary information so the board of trustees can approve the low bid in the next week or two, so the wind turbine project won’t be delayed.
“This is a huge project,” Kirkwood President Mick Starcevich said. “We want to make sure we have t’s crossed and i’s dotted.”
The lowest of the three bids for construction of the foundation and erection of the turbine was $1.2 million from Acterra Group in Marion.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Kirkwood officials told the board they have not yet received the regular monthly check for the July portion of the college’s state general aid funding.
The Legislature approved a state budget at the end of last month, just in time to avoid a state government shutdown. But Gov. Terry Branstad has 30 days from its passage to sign the legislation, and Kirkwood officials heard from the state the college won’t get its state aid until that happens.
The July portion to Kirkwood is about $2 million, Starcevich said.
“That will hurt our cash flow,” he said. “We’re dipping into reserves.”
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