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Wind turbine added to skyline

Motorists traveling Southgate Parkway will surely notice a new structure jutting into the skyline.

Perched above the roadway at the northwest corner of the Quality Inn lot sits a recently installed electricity generating wind turbine.

Owner Gary Rubel said the decision to add the three-bladed turbine was largely economically motivated.

“If it makes more than I use,” he said, “I sell it to the electric company.”

As well, he will receive tax credits for the installation.

The turbine is an additional electricity-generator at the site. Rubel had 340 solar panels previously installed on the inn’s roof.

Rubel said he plans to install similar turbines at his properties in New Concord and New Philadelphia.

The turbine installation is the handiwork of Greg Courtney and his crew of Alliance-based Wind Turbines of Ohio.

“We’ve installed 300 wind turbines,” he said. “This particular model … this is the sixth.”

The installation required a permit from the Federal Aviation Administration, according to Courtney.

The tower upon which the turbine generator is mounted stands 120 feet tall. The 33,000 pound tower sits on a octagonal slab of poured concrete 25 feet across.

The turbine generator is rated for 100,000 watts. It weighs 13,000 pounds.

Each blade is 40 feet long and is bolted to a central hub. The assembly is, in turn, attached to the turbine generator perched atop the tower.

The fiberglass blades are hollow, and contain two “weep holes” to allow moisture to escape. The blades/hub assembly weighs about 3,000 pounds.

Great care must be taken during the installation of such turbines, Courtney said. The concrete slab contains 105 cubic yards and several thousand pounds of reinforcing “rebar,” and extends six feet into the ground. It is perfectly level.

The tower can vary from the vertical no greater than 1/10th of a degree.

According to Courtney, calibrating the blades is both critical and difficult. They must be balanced, or the assembly will not work properly.

How often can one expect to see the blades turning?

“I think the projections were that it will run 75 percent of the time,” Courtney said. “The ‘dog days’ of summer when there’s no wind … it’s not going to turn.

Vermont-based Northern Power Systems manufactured the turbine, Courtney said. The company is one of the leading manufacturers of such devices.

“This is a top quality turbine,” he said. “They have an order to ship 40 of these to Italy.”

Courtney said the cost of a turbine the size of the Quality Inn turbine has dropped about 65 percent over the past few years.

“They’ve really streamlined this,” he said.

Wind Turbines of Ohio can be reached at 330-502-1250.