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Lordstown wind turbines fall short of hopes

Two wind-powered turbines in Lordstown saved the village about $50 a month during their first year in operation, Mayor Arno Hill said Wednesday.

That’s a far cry from expectations.

The turbines, on average, were expected to save the village 30 percent to 50 percent on its electricity payments, or $300 to $500 a month.

“That’s fallen short of what we expected, but I don’t know how accurate that figure is,” said John McCarthy, village councilman who voted for the turbines.

On the one-year anniversary of the village’s installation of the turbines near the Lordstown Administration Building, the relative ineffectiveness of the program has drawn the ire of many, including Hill.

“I didn’t vote for them,” Hill said, referencing his time on the village’s council. “I thought it was a bust. It was a nice effort to make people warm and fuzzy.”

The turbines generated 6,450 kilowatt hours of electricity through Wednesday, said Dave Harrison, village planning and zoning administrator.

The price per kilowatt is about 10 cents, meaning the total cost-savings for Lordstown was about $645, Harrison said.

The village previously did not pay more than 11 cents per kilowatt and is not in a high-wind area, two stipulations Hill says the village did not meet.

He said the only stipulation Lordstown met was the one acre needed to install the turbines.

Lordstown paid $13,170 of the $131,700 for the two 100-foot, 10-kilowatt-hour turbines. The rest came from $65,850 in grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission by way of the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and $52,680 from the Ohio Department of Development.

At the current pace, it will take 20 years to pay off Lordstown’s share.

Alliance-based Wind Turbines of Ohio LLC, which provided the turbines, has said the turbines should operate with “no maintenance for 30 to 50 years.”

The turbines have operated uninterrupted with the exception of a brief period when a councilman shut them down.

McCarthy said the village’s electric bills have dropped about 20 percent to 25 percent since the installation of the turbines and questioned whether the weather has played a factor in the windmills’ effectiveness.

“Typically, the windiest part of the year is between December and March,” he said. “This March, we can see how the wind hasn’t been doing much at all.”

Harrison said the turbines generated 1,019 kilowatt hours in January, the best month to date.

They generated 800 kilowatt hours in February and 720 so far in March.