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The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Clay High School is closer to getting commercial wind turbines erected on campus now that the Oregon Planning Commission recommended granting the school district a special use permit to install two wind generators.

The Planning Commission on Oct. 19 voted 3-0 in favor of recommending the special use permit. The project now goes before Oregon City Council and the school board for approval.

City council will hold a public hearing on the matter on Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. The school board is expected to vote on the project at its Nov. 4 meeting.

The high school campus is located on the north side of Seaman Road, west of Stadium Road. One of the turbines will be located near the football stadium and one near the practice soccer field. Both will be over 250 feet in height.

The district plans to use wind generated energy to power the entire campus, including the high school, stadium, bus garage and administration building.

A residential sized wind turbine on campus for the last two years produces 213 kilowatt (kw) hours per month, which calculates to about 5,256 kw annually. It produces about 50 percent of what a household turbine produces, Dean Sandwisch, director of business affairs at Clay who applied for the special use permit on behalf of the school, said at the meeting. 

The new commercial 750 kw turbines would produce nearly three million kw of electricity annually or 90-100 percent of the high school’s consumption.

SUREnergy, the general project contractor, is guaranteeing savings on current electric costs from the first month of operation under a 15-year least-to-own finance package.

SUREnergy is conducting a feasibility study with the district to secure state and federal incentives to erect the turbines.

The $7.4 million project also includes the addition of two 100 kw units at Eisenhower Middle School and two 100 kw units at Coy Elementary School, said Sandwisch.

“It is important to note that the district’s up-front cost is only $24,000 for the feasibility study, which was taken from the Permanent Improvement Fund,” he said. “The remainder of the cost is actually made up through the lease-to-own agreement over 12-15 years. Under this lease agreement, Oregon City Schools is guaranteed by SUREnergy to pay less in electric costs during the life of the lease. Basically, we will pay less by producing our own wind energy and making lease payments than we will by simply purchasing electricity from the grid. Whereas this arrangement provides an immediate cost savings from the district in the near term, the real savings occurs when the Oregon City Schools own the turbines outright and the only cost of producing our own electricity is the maintenance for the remaining useful life of the machines.”

The Planning Commission’s recommendation includes the following amendments:

• All engineering specifications are met in accordance with the Ohio Department of Development, which reviews each project before issuing any state based incentives;

• A maximum of two wind turbines may be constructed, each at 750 kw;

• All electrical wiring and transmission will be underground;

• All towers will be tubular monopole design, with no guide wires.

• All turbines shall have an automated shutdown mechanism for excessive wind speeds.

• All turbines must be manufacturer rated to withstand wind speeds in excess of 100 mph.

• Turbines that offer internal ascent ladders must have an external lock to prevent unauthorized access.

• A setback off all property lines of at least 100 percent of the total turbine height.

• Total height of the tower plus blades is not to exceed 286 feet for a 750 kw system, and 279 feet for a 100 kw system.

• The property owner assumes all responsibility for buildings and structures that lie in the fall zone of the turbines;

• The sound levels will not exceed 60 decibels at the property line.

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