Danville School’s 90-foot-tall wind turbine, noticeable for miles around for the past 20 years, will soon be removed.
Dave Schilling, Danville Middle and High School principal, said in an email that he was surprised to find the noisy turbine not producing power when he arrived at the school in 2018.
“Neither my predecessor nor the assistant principal at the time knew when it had previously generated power,” he said.
Schilling told the school board on May 4 that the cost of repairs needed to get an inverter working – between $4,000 and $11,000 – was not worth the small amount of power the unit could produce. In fact, it seems the system only generated a few hundred dollars of power to begin with.
“A 10KW hour grid-tied system doesn’t really do much,” said Schilling.
However, renewable energy will soon be a much bigger part of the school.
On May 17, the school board unanimously voted to enter into a net metering agreement with Norwich Solar Technologies. Eighty percent of the school’s current energy usage will be provided through an installation adjacent to the school.
Power from the solar installation will be provided at a fixed rate lower than the school’s current electric bill.
“We set the amount of power purchased through credits at 80 percent to accommodate for future efficiency projects in the school building – we didn’t want to agree to buy more power than we’d need!” Schilling said. “Given the low output of the wind turbine (should it even be able to be restored), this is a significant improvement in our use of renewable energy!”
Twinfield School will also be utilizing part of the installation and Cabot School may soon sign on as well.
“It would be an interesting outcome to have three schools in the SU consume the capacity of a solar farm that’s built-in one of our towns,” said Mark Tucker, CCSU superintendent, at the May 17 meeting.
The Cabot School Board is set to discuss the agreement at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 24.
There are no up-front, out-of-pocket or maintenance costs associated with the agreement.
According to Schilling, a summer off-grid installation is also planned on the tiny house on Danville School’s property. The school is planning to involve students in the install.
The school received $33,000 from the federal government to erect the turbine back in 2002 as part of a now-defunct, small-scale wind demonstration project, with another $5,000 of in-kind funds coming from the town.
Schilling said that, according to the best of installer Tom Halnon’s knowledge, recommended maintenance had never been done on the turbine.
A May 18 newsletter to the school community says that the turbine is expected to be removed before Danville School’s eighth-grade and high-school graduations in mid-June.
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