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Published: Wednesday, 11/9/2011

Wind turbine project waits for school board approval

Oregon district expects to save power costs

BY GABRIELLE RUSSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Two 100-killowat turbines at Eisenhower Middle School, as seen in this conceptual drawing, could be completed by the end of this year. The 190-feet tall turbines are expected to generate about 68 percent of the middle school's electrical needs, according to Superintendent Mike Zalar. Two 100-killowat turbines at Eisenhower Middle School, as seen in this conceptual drawing, could be completed by the end of this year. The 190-feet tall turbines are expected to generate about 68 percent of the middle school's electrical needs, according to Superintendent Mike Zalar.
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Within a few months, the landscape at two Oregon schools may significantly change as the district's wind-turbine construction project moves forward.

The project to build three wind turbines could start this month.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority on Oct. 27 approved up to $3.5 million in bonds to pay for it.

The project is subject to school board approval.

School officials said the $3.3 million project is important because it not only will save money on electricity but also will send a message to the community as the district tries to reduce its carbon footprint.

"We're on the cutting edge of the green revolution," Michael Zalar, Oregon city schools superintendent, said. "It makes sense environmentally, just doing the right thing."

Two 100-kilowatt turbines at Eisenhower Middle School could be completed by the end of this year on the northeast and southeast corners of the building.

The 190-foot-tall turbines are expected to generate 68 percent of the electricity the middle school needs, Mr. Zalar said.

At Clay High School, the proposal calls for one 900-kilowatt turbine to generate 81 percent of the electricity used at the school.

The 283-foot-tall turbine would be between the football and soccer practice fields, the superintendent said.

The turbine at the high school is expected to be completed by next spring.

The wind-turbine project has been in the works for months.

Last year, the district considered building two wind turbines at the high school.

But Mr. Zalar said officials decided to put only one at the high school and two smaller turbines at the middle school because of issues with the manufacturer.

Oregon will lease from SUREnergy, a Sandusky renewable-energy company that also has built wind turbines in the Huron City and Margaretta school districts.

Oregon spends about $271,000 annually for electricity at Clay and Eisenhower, Mr. Zalar said.

But over the wind turbines' 20-year life, the district expects to save at least $1.3 million in utility costs, he said.

SUREnergy also has promised a $200,000 safety net to cover any losses.

Contact Gabrielle Russon at: grusson@theblade.com or 419-724-6026.



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