Two wind turbines, intended to generate electricity for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, will be constructed in or near the city of Ann Arbor sometime in the next year and a half. At its Jan. 7, 2013 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council approved a nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy that will fund part of the construction.
The city is obligated to provide an additional $484,390 in matching funds on the $951,500 grant – which it expects to achieve through partnership with a third-party developer, who was not named in the council’s resolution. However, city staff responded to councilmember questions before the meeting by indicating it was Wind Products Inc., out of Brooklyn, N.Y. that is expected to make the investment.
The city’s plan is to make a $18,590 contribution of in-kind staff time, not paying any cash.
The plan is to locate the wind turbines on AAPS property and that the third-party developer will construct the turbines. The developer would then provide AAPS with a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) – which would give the AAPS some guaranteed minimum of power at less than the current market rate. The recipient of any renewable energy credits (RECs) from the installation would be the city of Ann Arbor.
AAPS director of communications Liz Margolis responded to an emailed query from The Chronicle describing the possibility that the site of the installation could be Pioneer High School, with the height of the turbines approximating that of two cell towers already located on the property. Margolis indicated that before any decision is made to locate wind turbines on the school’s property, the school district would solicit comments from residents who live near the site. The city council deliberations indicated little enthusiasm for locating the turbines near residential neighborhoods or very near a school building.
In the state of Michigan, Ann Arbor has poor to marginal potential for wind energy generation, compared with areas in the rest of the state – according to data maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy. However, the goal of the Ann Arbor project is focused on the educational benefit – as the schools integrate the project into their curricula and the public would have its awareness raised regarding renewable energy.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.
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