Tests delay operations of Clay's tall turbine

Safety issues remain over switch device


Oregon City Schools officials had hoped Clay High School's 283-foot-tall wind turbine would have been operating by now, but electricity crews continue to do testing after shutting it down in the spring.

School board President P.J. Kapfhammer said Toledo Edison crews were planning final testing of the turbine on Monday and today, with a tentative goal of having the turbine feeding into the grid by Friday.

"You have to pass all the tests and it has to be 100 percent, there is no leeway. We were anticipating [it to be running] this week, but we do understand that safety comes first," Mr. Kapfhammer said.

The turbine, installed to cut the school's electricity costs, began operating on April 29, but Toledo Edison shut it down after a month, after citing safety concerns with a switching gear.

The testing by Toledo Edison and SUREnergy, a renewable-energy company in Sandusky, is to ensure that the turbine doesn't continue to feed electricity onto the power grid while crews are working on power lines during an outage, Mr. Kapfhammer said.

The school district has been operating two smaller, 190-foot turbines at Eisenhower Middle School since February.

The tips of the blades, which move about 150 mph, had produced more than 460,500 kilowatts through May, which was more than the 375,000 kilowatts predicted by officials.

Officials project the turbines will result in a $2 million to $4 million savings in utility bills over their 25-year life span.

School officials estimated that they will save 70 to 80 percent of its electricity bills, which at the high school were $17,022 on average last year.

The school district leases the turbines through SUREnergy, under an agreement that requires the district to pay about $30,000 monthly to SUREnergy.

Officials said the school district will not have to pay the turbine's leasing fee until it is operational.