More bad news about Rim of the World High School’s electricity-generating wind turbines. School trustees at last week’s school board meeting heard there would be no easy fix to get the steel poles that support the turbines state certified as being safe.
You have probably noticed them as you drove past Rim High along Highway 18. They are Rim’s four vertical axis wind turbines installed near the parking lot just to the northeast of the Performing Arts Center. Surrounded by chain link fencing, they are supposed to generate electricity and be a part of the high school’s green energy learning lab for science students.
From the first there have been problems, which we won’t go into here. The most serious issue came about earlier this year when the California Division of the State Architect (DSA) said it would not grant certification of the steel poles supporting the wind turbines because the state agency could not verify the structural integrity of the welding—done in China—was up to state code.
Let’s start with the fact that the wind turbines, along with solar panels installed next to them, cost the district roughly $400,000 to purchase and install, with funds coming from the Measure W construction bond proceeds.
Now we’re hearing that fixing the problem would cost anywhere from roughly $30,000 to as much as $40,000, or even more.
To continue using the four existing poles, according to one scenario, the poles would be removed, then have visual inspections and forensic tests done to determine if they meet DSA standards. Another option is to buy new poles, this time from an American manufacturer, and try to sell the old poles. A third option, load testing two of the four existing poles, was rejected outright by the manufacturer.
So bottom line, if trustees want to continue having the wind turbines spinning high above Rim’s parking lot and have confidence the poles would not fail and potentially injure a high school student, they must decide if they want to spend more money.
This comes at a time when Rim teachers are asking for more compensation—and one trustee said last week she would like to see if that could happen—while the district is asking for more portable buildings to accommodate two school closures. And then there are students needing text books, and questions about the district’s bus pass program.
We believe trustees need to think twice or even three times before they agree to spend more money to fix the wind turbine pole problem. Whether it’s $30,000, $40,000 or more, that money should find a better use than just to keep the wind turbines rotating. Of course, Cervantes’ Don Quixote might see Rim’s windmills as giants fit for battle, but we think they should be taken down and sold for scrap.
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