OBERLIN – By June of last year, a wind turbine was supposed to have been built near Firelands Elementary School, to provide energy to the Firelands school district at a discounted cost. That project may now be dead in the water, according to Firelands Superintendent Greg Ring.
“We haven’t done anything to stop the contract moving forward,” Ring said. “But June 30 is the deadline. We anticipated it would be up and running by now.”
With plans announced in October 2010, the turbine was to be built and maintained by NexGen Energy Partners LLC, a Colorado-based energy company, and would have provided energy to Firelands Elementary and Firelands High School. Ring said funding that would have allowed NexGen to complete the project has dried up.
“The grant funds to support the project aren’t there,” he said. “I think that’s slowed the growth of wind turbines throughout the state.”
The district had agreed to purchase electricity through NexGen, generated through the wind turbine, at a rate that would have saved the district around $10,000 annually in electric bills.
Firelands initially made a “good faith” investment with NexGen of about $14,000, Ring said.
“We were assured we’d be credited that money back in five-year contract,” Ring said. “We anticipate being reimbursed.”
Ring said if the project is not moving forward by June 30, the school district will cancel the project.
“I think we’ve extended the terms of construction long enough,” he said. “At that point I think it’s realistic to think the project is not going to move forward.”
Ring could not provide specifics on the funding he said NexGen lost, and NexGen representatives did not return calls requesting comment as of yesterday evening.
When the project was announced, the turbine was expected to produce 500,000 kilowatts and reduce emissions of 791,640 per year.
Ring said that in addition to electricity, the wind turbine would have provided an educational component
“It provided some great educational opportunities for students to learn more about alternative energy,” Ring said. “It had an educational component to it, would have enabled our kids to jump online and see the kind of energy the turbine was producing. There was a real nice educational piece to it that would have fit in with our science curriculum.
“Generally, we were excited,” he continued. “There was a lot of interest in the district. I’m disappointed it doesn’t look like it’s going to come to fruition.”
This month, the Environmental Protection Agency approved Firelands Elementary and Firelands High School as Energy Star buildings as a result of energy conservation efforts. To receive the Energy Star label, a building must achieve an EPA rating of 75 or higher. Firelands High School is rated 92, and Firelands Elementary has a rating of 89.
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