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About a dozen wind turbines have already been built in St. Joseph County, but in terms of size—all will pale in comparison to the ‘next one.’
A proposal has been filed with the St. Joseph County Board of Zoning Appeals to build the county’s first commercial grade wind turbine.
The 50 kilowatt unit would stand between 120 and 140 feet high. If you put the rotor on a football field the blades would measure 21 yards from tip to tip.
Right now, there are two wind turbines behind the First National Bank branch at Edison and Hickory—but the new turbine would be three and a half times larger.
Currently, the biggest turbine in St. Joseph County sits in White Field on the Notre Dame campus—but the proposed turbine would be twice the size.
You might wonder where such a large project could be built in St. Joseph County without drawing opposition from nearby residents.
“I don’t know if there’s a less obtrusive place to put it than next to the landfill,” said Don Smessaert, President of the St. Joseph County Regional Sewer and Water District board.
Indeed, it is the sewer and water board that is suddenly branching out into the ‘wind’ business big-time.
Plans call for the turbine to be built on the grounds of the Prairie View Landfill near Wyatt.
The nearest residence is 1,200 feet away and all of the homes that are nearby stand to benefit financially from the electricity that is generated.
“They want to put a wind turbine up and hopefully it’s going to cut the cost for the electricity for the sewer bills and everything,” said Wyatt resident Clint Schlarb. “I don’t think necessarily it would be a bad place.”
The turbine’s only purpose would be to lower the electric bills at Wyatt’s sewage treatment plant, which is located on the landfill grounds.
While the sewer bills of residential customers probably would not decrease, the argument is, they’d be much less likely to increase.
With the current sewer rate structure due to be re-evaluated at the end of this year, the wind turbine project could move quickly.
“With our NIPSCO agreement, I believe we’ve got about six months to have it up, done and ready to connect,” said Smessaert. “For a young sewer district, we’ve kind of been a, been willing to do some things that aren’t done.”
The price tag for the project is expected to be around $300,000.
75 percent of the cost would be funded through federal grant monies left over from the construction of the sewer system itself.
The proposal faces its first hearing before the St. Joseph County Area Board of Zoning Appeals on April 4th.
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