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Published: Wednesday, 12/28/2011

Oregon students leave their marks on progress

BY GABRIELLE RUSSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sixth grader Josh Meinke picked a spot at the end of the blade that will be attached to the tower so he could "remember where it's at when I'm older and I'm sending my kids here". Sixth grader Josh Meinke picked a spot at the end of the blade that will be attached to the tower so he could "remember where it's at when I'm older and I'm sending my kids here".
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One middle-schooler scribbled his name, looking like a doctor's note, on the 700-pound wind turbine blade that was wheeled into the lobby of Eisenhower Middle School.

Another student, Madison Hendricks, wrote her name clearly in large, bold letters -- then underlined it, as if to prove a point -- on the turbine.

As the wind turbine construction project is under way in Oregon City Schools, about 490 students took a moment recently to autograph two of the 35-foot long blades, marking a moment in history.

"We represent our school," said Young Hendricks, an 11-year-old sixth-grader who lives in Oregon. "It's really cool everyone can do that and be a part of that."

As construction continues throughout this month, the two 100-kilowatt turbines are expected to be turned on Jan. 1 at the middle school. At 190-feet tall, the turbines will generate about 68 percent of the school's electricity, school officials have said.

The blades looked like a pair of airplane propellers, an odd sight on a regular school day as students and staff signed their names.

"I was surprised how big that blade was," said sixth-grader David LaFountain, 11, of Curtice, after he stood in line with his classmates and wrote his name on it. "Dude, look at that. It's like one-third of the hallway."

Later in March, the larger turbine, towering at 283 feet, is expected to be spinning at Clay High School. The 900-kilowatt wind turbine will generate about 80 percent of the electricity at Clay.

Kendall Wells, a sixth grader, signs a wind turbine blade. Kendall Wells, a sixth grader, signs a wind turbine blade.
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SUREnergy, a Sandusky renewable energy company, will build the $3.3 million turbines, thanks to up to $3.5 million in bonds approved by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority in late October.

The district expects it will save between $2 million and $4 million in utility bills over the turbines' 25 year lifetime.

The savings come because Oregon schools is locking in a set rate on electricity in its lease for SUREnergy while electricity costs with Toledo Edison are expected to steadily rise in the future, said Oregon business manager Dean Sandwisch.

Under its lease, Oregon schools will pay $30,000 monthly to SUREnergy and will receive renewable energy credits valued at $90,000 in the first year that the district can sell on the open market back to Toledo Edison, Mr. Sandwisch said.

Before the wind turbines, electricity bills at the high school and middle school cost about $22,500 monthly.

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



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