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CC-E discusses wind turbine plans

Clay Central-Everly continued to discuss their plans for the wind turbine at the Royal building. Harold Prior, from the Iowa Wind Energy Association, has been consulting with the district since the beginning, researching the best options for the district in regards to the old turbine.

Since the previous board meeting, Prior has located the original signed agreement between IES/Alliant and Clay Central-Everly. The original agreement was signed for 33 years, of which they’ve completed 17.

“Alliant is very guarded about any change to the agreement,” Prior told the board at Monday night’s meeting. “In order to keep the agreement valid, the district needs to replace the broken machine with an identical model that produces at the same level.”

If the new model was to produce more than the capability of the current turbine, the district would be paid four cents per kilowatt hour overproduced, rather than the six cents stipulated in the agreement.

To help assure that the agreement is kept valid, Prior suggested that the district have the project speculations reviewed by Alliant before any work is begun.

In addition, Prior spoke to the Iowa Department of Education regarding funding for the project. At the last board meeting, Prior estimated the price to range from $109,000 to $129,000. According to the Department of Education, major repairs on an existing turbine – such as a blade or generator – cannot come from equipment levies. However, replacing a turbine isn’t considered a repair, and equipment levies can be used.

Because the existing turbine was considered remanufactured, though was determined to be faulty since installation, Board President Scott Rinehart expressed concern about replacing the existing turbine with another remanufactured model.

“We know who the legitimate remanufacturers are,” Prior assured the board. “With one in particular, we’ve been to their facilities, and we’ve worked with them before on another project.”

The board suggested holding a public meeting to gather community feedback on the project.

“It’s a large amount of money,” Clay Central-Everly district member Jerry Menke said. “The public should decide.”

At $109,000, Prior estimates that, given ideal production, the turbine should pay off in 10 years, not including maintenance, insurance or repairs.

Prior also noted that a “legitimately remanufactured turbine holds its resale value,” while a broken turbine, such as the existing machine in Royal, is worth its value in scrap metal.

In discussing the next step for the turbine, the board decided to hold a public hearing on Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. From there, they will continue their discussion regarding the project.