The Press Newspaper
SUREnergy made a proposal to the board that could result in making Oregon City
Schools Ohio’s largest wind-powered district.
Oregon Schools Superintendent Michael Zalar says the building of commercial wind turbines on two campuses could result in a significant future cost savings in utility bills.
“If this is a project we’re going to do, it is going to be a project we’re going to do with permanent improvement dollars, not with operational dollars,” said Dean Sandwisch, school district business operations manager.
“Another thing the project is doing with (Clay High School environmental science and biology teacher) Dennis Slotnick involved is really going at it from the two-pronged approach of educational benefit and economic benefit. I think we are really taking that approach,” Sandwisch said.
Making the presentation was Bryan Rathbun, assistant sales director at Sandusky-based SUREnergy, and Bill Caughey, a consultant for Chevron and SUREnergy. Rathbun deals mostly with school and municipal projects for the renewable energy company.
School officials maintain that Chevron would be involved in arranging the financing and provides no money towards the project, and the project would include no additional burden on the taxpayer.
“There are actually a couple different aspects to the project that we are looking at,” Rathbun said. “Some of them are likely to change. What we have right now is, we’re applying to implement six different turbines at two of the different buildings.”
If approved, there would be construction of four or more turbines capable of offsetting 25 to 60 percent of Clay High School’s utility costs, state SUREnergy presentation materials. More studies would be needed to confirm the size and structure of the project.
The proposal also includes two small commercial wind turbines at Eisenhower Middle School that SUREnergy says would offset 85 to 100 percent of that school’s utility costs. The equipment will be leased by the school district.
SUREnergy suggests that the district uses the Northwind 100 kilowatt turbine, which is one of the few American wind turbines currently available. The unit has been in production for 10 years and has over 100 installation sites around the world, with over 10 years of proven performance. Many of the internal components found in this turbine are made in Ohio.
Safety and technology features of each turbine include three independent braking systems, 24/7 live monitoring from Vermont, a permanent magnet direct-drive technology that eliminates the need for gears, an automatic start-up and restart, and a power corruption factors that helps to reduce costs even if there is no wind. Lighting protection includes receptors in blades, nacelle lightning rod and surge protection,
The proposal states the construction of new wind turbines would stabilize overhead costs by keeping the district’s overhead electrical costs at the same flat rate for 15 years. This would provide short- and long-term savings by protecting against unstable and uncertain electrical costs.
Slotnick also spoke on the success of a residential model turbine already installed at Clay’s Wind Research Facility, and his thoughts on establishing commercial turbines on campus.
“The most important thing is there is the educational component that has to do with students collecting data, assessing bird impact, and determining the outputs,” Slotnick said, “and, as far as the school, the energy production is the economic advantage. It’s actually not going to cost any more money, but it’s going to save the school money.
“It’s a very strong move in the direction for maximizing our resources right on campus with wind energy, saving taxpayers, and being a great educational tool for our students, for our community, and the electronics program, and the biology program to be watching the bird study. It would benefit the physics classes, and the physics science group would be studying this, comparing the data.”
A board member asked if the agricultural students could access the data, and Slotnick responded that, “This data share is critical for everybody.”