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Petition filed to locate turbine at treatment plant near Wyatt

SOUTH BEND – The Regional Water and Sewer District has filed a petition with the county to locate a wind turbine at its wastewater treatment plant outside of Wyatt.

The turbine is expected to reduce energy costs at the plant and, as a result, keep a lid on future sewer rate increases in the town of Wyatt, Don Smessaert, president of the water and sewer district, said.

The petition, which seeks a special use permit to locate a turbine in an agricultural district, has been assigned to the Land Use Planning Committee of the county council.

A public hearing and vote on the measure will take place no sooner than May 15.

The district is currently accepting bids on the project, which will be financed with money leftover from a $1.4 million federal grant/loan used to construct Wyatt’s sewer system.

In order to move forward on the project, the winning bid must come in under about $400,000, Smessaert said.

Bids are due within the next couple of weeks.

“We believe we’ll see the pricing at our next meeting,” Smessaert said, “and that’s sort of the last duck” in the row.

According to information included in the petition, the turbine will be between 120 and 140 feet tall with a rotor diameter of 47 to 63 feet. It will produce 50 kilowatts of electrical power.

The necessary state, local, and federal departments and agencies have already signed off on the project, and the district has entered into an agreement with NIPSCO to purchase the power generated by the turbine.

“This won’t change the (sewer) rates today,” Smessaert said of the project, “but what it does is flatten the rate increases as we go into the future.”

A study conducted in 2010 concluded a 50-kilowatt turbine could generate as much as 40 percent of the plant’s energy needs, with a return on investment of about five years.

The Land Use Planning Committee next meets at 5:30 p.m. April 24 on the fourth floor of the County-City Building, 227 W. Jefferson Blvd.