May 16, 2018

Riley County commissioners discuss the fate of costly wind turbines

By Molly Patt | KSNT | May 14, 2018 |

If you live in Riley County, the wind turbines, that are meant to bring you savings are actually costing you more tax dollars than county officials would like.

That’s why county commissioners are trying to decide the fate of the four turbines.

The grants that were paying for the turbines and their up keep have expired and now any work that needs to be done to the turbines, will strictly come out of Riley County residents wallets.

Officials at Riley County public works say that the turbines are not producing enough energy to make the savings worth it.

The turbines have been in Manhattan since 2011 and have a life span of about 20 years.

The biggest of the turbines is the only one that’s actually providing any savings, but in reality is really only breaking even when you take into account the repair and up keep costs.

That’s what commissioners are trying to decide if it’s worth peoples tax dollars because it’s too costly to justify how much savings are actually being produced from them. And the amount of repairs the turbines need, hasn’t been a small number.

“The big wind turbine that we have is very sensitive to lightning strikes, so every time we get a thunder storm, it tends to stop running,” Public Works Director Leon Hobson said.

The turbines efficiency is dependent on the wind and even when it may seem like a windy day on the ground, the turbines don’t always pick up on that to utilize it. In turn, not producing a whole lot of savings day to day.

“If we had the wind, the turbines would be more efficient and would be generating more electricity and providing us a more economical base for keeping them,” Hobson said.

Estimated cost of removal for just one of the turbines is about $20,000 just to take the head off the tower. It does all depend on the size of the turbine to determine a cost. Commissioners are trying to decide if the costly removal will be worth the tax payers savings in the long run.

The turbines were actually installed for an educational project and now that the money for them has expired, commissioners are very serious about their removal.

There is no specific timeline yet, but Riley County leaders are reaching out to other counties to see if they want the turbines, but all in all, commissioners have a goal to not have this project cost tax payers a dollar.

URL to article: