Julio Mata, 12, from left Robby Edwards, 12, and Andrea Lee, 12, experiment with a model turbine they built in their seventh grade science class at Eisenhower Middle School in Oregon, Ohio.
Spinning for the first time this month, the two 190-foot-tall wind turbines towered over the pine trees, power lines, and sport fields just behind Eisenhower Middle School.
The turbines are visible from Curtice Road, where Kris Nikoncy has lived her entire life.
But Mrs. Nikoncy, whose grandfather sold the surrounding farmland in Jerusalem Township to Oregon City Schools, doesn't mind.
The turbines "run so gently" she can hardly hear them, she said.
The turbines -- a project in the works for several years at Oregon schools -- have been up and running since Feb. 1. A third turbine, much taller at 283 feet, is expected to be turning by early April at Clay High School.
So far, the twin turbines have generated about 23,000 kilowatt hours for the middle school, which requires about 45,000 kilowatt hours monthly, said Dean Sandwisch, district business manager.
He said that the month had two days when the turbines couldn't run because the wind speed was less than 6 mph.
He added the district fielded phone calls from residents who wondered why the turbines weren't moving.
Oregon City Schools' wind turbines are up and running.
In the middle school, Mr. Sandwisch showed off a room off the main lobby where a computer monitors wind speed and direction, and how much electricity the turbines are producing.
Down the hallway, in a seventh-grade science classroom, handmade miniature wind turbines made of PVC pipe were on display, evidence of teachers bringing the turbines into their lessons.
School officials said they are looking at ways to finance other energy improvements, such as solar roof panels at Starr and Fassett elementary schools or a biomass furnace to heat Jerusalem Elementary School.
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority approved up to $3.5 million in bonds in October to pay for the $3.3 million turbine project.
The school district's lease for the turbines is with SUREnergy, a renewable-energy company from Sandusky. The lease requires the district to pay $30,000 monthly to SUREnergy, but it will also sell renewable energy credits valued at $90,000 in the first year on the open market to electric companies, officials have said.
Before the wind turbines, electricity bills at the middle school were about $51,000 annually.
But officials have said they expect to save between $2 million and $4 million in utility bills over the turbines' 25-year lifetime.
The district is locking in a set rate on electricity with SUREnergy; electricity costs are projected to increase steadily in the next few years.
Left to right Dean E. Sandwisch, director of business affairs, and Michael E. Zalar, Oregon City Schools superintendent, in the wind turbine control room at Eisenhower Middle School in Oregon. Oregon City Schools' wind turbines are up and running.
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