March 15, 2012

Howard County schools scrap wind turbine plan

By Gretchen Frazee, Indiana Public Media, 14 March 2012

Howard County School officials say they will lose out on nearly $3 million after parents petitioned against building a wind turbine in the area.

About 250 residents presented the Eastern Howard School Corporation school board with a petition this week opposing installation of the turbine, which school board members say would have brought in more than $6 million for the school district in the next 25 years. Residents cited health and safety concerns, and many disapproved of the $3.5 million it would have taken to fund the project.

School Board Member Mark Lantz says the turbine was completely safe, but the board promised to scrap the idea if more than 100 people came out against it.

“It wasn’t in the best interest of the community to go out and divide up people and pit people one against one the other for this,” he says. “It just wasn’t worth that fight and that struggle.”

Duke Energy had agreed to exchange financial credits for the power the turbine generated, creating a lower energy bill for the schools each month. Eastern Howard Superintendent Tracy Caddell says that would have given the district a little more wiggle room in its budget.

“In this environment where budgets are being reduced, particularly in small school districts that are not really growing, it was going to allow us to have some funding outside of the funding formula,” he says.

Caddell says the corporation will now have to look at ways to conserve energy rather than producing it. He says options include revamping the district’s heating and air conditioning system or installing solar panels that could help power some of the schools.

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