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Southeastern considers turbine proposal

LOGANSPORT – Southeastern School Corporation officials are considering a big addition they hope may shrink their expenses.

The district is in “very preliminary” talks with an Indianapolis company about installing a large wind turbine on the campus of Lewis Cass Junior-Senior High School, Superintendent John Bevan said. But he said the corporation is 12 to 18 months away from even having to make a decision about whether to substantially invest in the project with a price tag topping $2 million.

Southeastern is just the latest local school district to explore its wind options. Northwestern School Corporation in Kokomo had a public hearing last month on its nearly $2.5 million plan, and the school board at Eastern Howard School Corporation in Greentown has started the process to build one.

Bevan said with funding sources shrinking, corporations have to explore other options.

“We’re just taking a look at it at this point,” he said. “But when you have savings possibilities, you have to look into them.”

The school is talking to Performance Services, the same company working with both Northwestern and Eastern Howard.

The company estimates the school district could save as much as $200,000 a year in electric costs with a turbine, Bevan said. The 900-kilowatt tower would have an expected life span of 25 years.

Southeastern looked at the wind option two or three years ago, Bevan recalled, and decided it didn’t make economic sense.

But a change in state law that would allow the district to sell additional power generated to the local electric company “changes the math,” Bevan said. During times when electricity consumption is low, like during the summer, the district would be credited for the power it produces but doesn’t use and instead feeds into the system.

Still, Bevan stressed the corporation is only exploring its options at this point.

The first question is whether a large turbine would even be allowed on the Lewis Cass property. The site falls near flight paths for Grissom Air Reserve Base.

Bevan said Performance Services officials will investigate that matter. The corporation should know within 60 days whether the Federal Aviation Administration objects to the possibility of a turbine.

If the FAA doesn’t oppose the project, school board members will then weigh whether to pay $3,000 for a study that evaluates the wind patterns in the area to determine if a turbine would be viable.