CONCORDIA – Three wind turbines that power the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system at Cloud County Community College’s Concordia campus are casting shadows that are too long.
At 110 feet, the windmills on a hill south of the campus have been deemed too tall by the Federal Aviation Administration. The chance of losing $1 million in federal grants has prompted the college to take action that could cost up to $150,000.
The FAA informed the college roughly a year ago that the windmills are in Blosser Municipal Airport’s airspace, said Bob Maxson, vice president for administrative services at the two-year college.
The first notice categorized the windmills as “no hazard,” he said. Later, the windmills were deemed a “presumed hazard,” which caused the FAA to adjust flight patterns to and from the airport.
“It doesn’t mean we have to take them down, but we are looking at lowering them 20 to 30 feet,” Maxson said. “They’re in three sections, so it would mean removing a section.”
Known as Cloud Power Wind Farm, the cluster of windmills consists of two turbines that are rated at 100 kilowatts each and a third rated at 150.
Before the small wind farm went online in April 2010, the college announced receiving a $300,000 grant from the Kansas Board of Regents and another $1 million administered through the U.S. Department of Energy. The $1 million grant is at stake if the two 100-kw towers aren’t lowered, Maxson said.
The $1.3 million in grants paid for construction of the three turbines, he said.
“In order for us to be reimbursed for that ($1 million) purchase, we have to have them at a lower height,” Maxson said. “The board of trustees has made the decision to lower all three of them.”
For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Journal.
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