Unsure of what to do with its broken turbine, Union Township officials have tabled making a decision until the township consults with Central Michigan University.
The north Skystream, a $16,634 grant-funded wind turbine installed for research purposes, no longer works, and the city is not sure why.
Though the township discussed a few options at its Wednesday night meeting, a decision was tabled until township officials could discuss those options with Tom Rohrer, CMU professor and director of the Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Systems.
“Because it was such a high profile project … I’m looking for the board’s guidance on this,” Union Township Manager Brian Smith said. “The cost to (fix) this could be a $25 part, or it could be … $500. We don’t know.”
There is nothing in the grant documentation that restricts the township from taking the turbine down and either disposing of it or selling its parts.
It would cost an estimated $2,937.50 to take the turbine down.
The north Skystream presented an electrical savings of $490.28 from October 2010 through June 2013, a per-month savings of $15.32.
It also saved 3,452 pounds of carbon dioxide that would have been released into the environment with traditional electricity generation.
“I wanted to show that there were some … electrical savings, but there was also a lot of good done for the environment,” Smith said.
Smith said he is unsure of the resale value of the broken turbine.
Township Trustee Phil Mikus made the suggestion to confer with Rohrer for more guidance.
“In the mean time, we can talk to Tom … and see what he thinks out options could be,” he said.
Township Treasurer Pam Stovak seconded the motion.
The turbine would have to run for 16 years just to pay for its own removal, she said.
“The proposed life expectancy of these things is 15 years to start with,” she said.
The township could also consider saving the broken turbine for parts to service the other wind turbines, Stovak said.
“We’re somewhere between pushing a button and having a totally useless piece of equipment, as far as we know,” Trustee Tim Lannen said.
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