May 30, 2017

Digging deeper: Long list of problems for Ogle County wind turbine

By Reuben Jones | May 24, 2017 |

At first glance it looks like the Ogle County wind turbine is working normal. But take a closer look and you’ll see a major problem.

“It was coming apart. Literally, chunks were falling off it,” said neighbor Rick Cashen.

Last week lightning hit the turbine creating a gash and throwing the blades out of control.

The turbine is behind Eswood Elementary School in Lindenwood. When Superintendent Joe Schwartz saw the furious spinning he closed part of the school’s building, and moved students to the other side. He also moved graduation to a nearby school.

“I didn’t want probably 200 people coming in and out outside at the time,” Schwartz said.

Since then technicians have stopped the turbine from spinning.

But that’s only where this story begins. It turns out this five-year-old turbine has never produced any electricity.

“There have been numerous problems with the windmill. Breaking issues, air foil issues,” Schwartz said.

As 13 News first told you in 2015, the turbine, which was supposed to save the school money, has never worked.

The company which installed it, Rock Wind LLC, told us at the time it would be a matter of months.

But more than two years later it still sits unproductive

“We knew it was a research turbine. We knew we were trying to do something no one else had done before,” said Rock Wind Venture Partners President Dick Johnson. “Sort of seems like one of those things… that if it could go wrong, it did go wrong.”

It’s why neighbors want it taken down.

“I think it’s not worth the risk that it takes and puts people in, it’s not worth that to save a few bucks from an energy perspective,” said neighbor Stephen Hoffman.

Hoffman and his family of five live right next to the turbine. He said not only is it an eyesore, it’s a safety concern.

“At the end of the day it’s not worth any dismemberment, anyone getting injured from something you’re not expecting,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said if it isn’t taken down, there’s a good chance he will move out.

Meanwhile, cones fill the school’s backyard warning those to stay clear of a generator that has produced everything but electricity.

The school board will meet next month to figure out what to do with the turbine. If the district decides to take it down the superintendent said he will work with the district’s attorney to have the company pay for the costs.

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