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CC-E to open bids for new wind turbine

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Over the past several months, the Clay Central-Everly school board has been discussing the wind turbine located near the elementary building in Royal.

The board hired Harold Prior from the Iowa Wind Energy Association several months ago to investigate the turbine, to determine whether the best action would be to fix the existing turbine, replace it, or take it down and sell it.

Prior returned to the school board at Monday night's meeting with "reasonably accurate and conservative estimates" on what the turbine's production capacity had been when it was installed in 1995, and what it could be with several alterations.

The two vendors he talked to -- Talk Inc. in Saulk City, Minn. and Current Wind Power in Des Moines -- would not recommend repairing the existing turbine.

"While we don't know for sure, we have a safe assumption that the existing turbine was not a fully manufactured model," Prior told the board. "We're fairly confident that it was, at least in part, refurbished."

Talk Inc. recommended replacing the existing turbine with an identical model in better condition, which would include a substantially stronger ball gear than the original model. To replace the existing turbine with the identical, better-conditioned model would cost the district about $109,000.

Current Wind recommended replacing the existing turbine with a newer model of a similar size, compatible with the existing tower. This newer turbine would cost the district about $150,000.

In initial talks, Current Wind offered to repair the existing turbine, though now, after seeing the condition of the turbine, they strongly recommend against repairs.

Current Wind has not yet specified the exact turbine they would replace the existing one with. Prior noted to the board he will find out before the board makes their final decision.

The district purchased the existing turbine in Oct. 1995 for $130,800.

Should the board decide to move forward with replacing the turbine, there may be low-interest money available from the state to help offset the cost.

While Prior isn't certain how much the existing turbine could produce in comparison with how much it has produced in recent past, he is confident that a replacement would increase the production drastically.

"It's very conservative to expect the turbine to produce 100,000 kilowatt hours in the year," Prior said.

As the turbine runs, the energy produced will offset the energy used at the Royal building first. Any additional energy produced will be sold to Alliant Energy for six cents per kilowatt hour.

Neither Talk Inc. nor Current Wind expressed interest in purchasing the existing turbine from the district. Should the board decide to disassemble the turbine, Prior estimates the materials could be sold as scrap for about $4,500.

The board decided at Monday night's meeting to move forward in gathering bid specifications to replace the existing turbine.

"Hopefully, we'll get the answers we need," Board President Scott Rinehart said. "Then we'll move forward with what we want to do."

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SCRAP IT!!! Use the money for something that doesn't need repaired all the time. I'm sure there are more important things the district can use the money for. How many school districts have their own wind turbine?

-- Posted by hawkguy on Tue, Nov 27, 2012, at 8:33 AM

Let's assume the 100,000 kwh per year is correct and that the district saves 12 cents per kwh vs. paying Alliant (I don't know exactly what rate Alliant charges the district). That's $12,000 a year in savings. So that is a 9 year payback on the $109,000 with no money for maintenance and also assumes that all 100,000 kwh are used by the school rather than being sold back to Alliant for 6 cents. If the Alliant rate is less you are looking at an even longer payback. Time to scrap this idea and move on to something else.

-- Posted by RJT on Tue, Nov 27, 2012, at 6:59 PM

Exactly RJT. The board needs to be realistic. Even if it were to be paid off in 5 years. With the declining enrollment, will the district be around in 5 years?

-- Posted by hawkguy on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 10:08 AM

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