After long delays, and not without controversy, crewmen on Monday began removing the old 23-foot-tall steel support poles for the electricity-generating wind turbines at Rim of the World High School and installing new replacement poles.
Last year California’s Division of the State Architect (DSA) told Rim of the World Unified School District officials that it would not grant certification of the existing steel poles supporting the wind turbines because the state agency could not verify the structural integrity of the welding. The poles were manufactured in China.
This was after Rim three years ago signed off on the purchase and cost of installation of the turbines and their support poles. Since last year the turbines have been locked in place to keep them from spinning. The main issue centers on the safety of students walking near the poles.
Administrators and trustees wrestled with three choices: Test the poles to see if they could be certified, replace the old poles with new ones which would be made in the U.S.A. and could be certified to state standards or take them down and scrap the turbines.
At the same time, trustees have been trying to determine who would be responsible for paying for new poles if that’s the direction they wanted to take.
In the end, and after some jaw-boning, it was decided that the costs involved—$66,945 to install four new support poles—might be shared between the district’s consultants, PJHM Architects and Tilden Coil Constructors, and Rim.
At its March 17 meeting, trustees agreed on a 3-0 vote to spend $17,796 to purchase four new 23-foot steel support poles for the wind turbines, located next to the high school’s Performing Arts Center.
Crewmen from Trinity Construction Co. are doing the pole replacement work this week. The district intends to have the wind turbines working again and develop curriculum to have the electricity the wind turbines generate be part of physics classes at Rim.
“It’s been a long haul, but we finally replaced the turbine poles as requested by the California State architects,” Rim trustee Scott Markovich wrote on his Facebook page. “So the wind turbines at Rim High School are back on line. This is inspiring for me for it reflects a vision for learning that engages students, correlates learning to hands on education and shows Rims schools commitment for our planets sustainable future.”
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