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Officials gather at Clay to view wind turbine

Energy tower last of 3 to spin into action


State Rep. Matt Szollosi serves up a piece of cake to Asha Henderson, Clay High School junior. The confection was modeled after the wind turbine and was 7 feet high.

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More than a dozen Oregon community leaders gathered to see the new towering wind turbine at Clay High School, a week or so before the machine officially turns on later this month.

The ceremony was held last week before the 283-feet-tall turbine goes online at the high school. It will be the last of the three turbines to be up and spinning in Oregon.

"This has been a fun ride, and this is kind of the culmination," school district manager Dean Sandwisch told a crowd that included Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley and city councilmen. "It was a leap of faith, but it was a calculated leap of faith."

Since February, the two smaller 190-feet turbines at Eisenhower Middle School have rotated, generating more electricity than what officials had anticipated. The tips of the blades move about 150 mph.

So far, the two turbines are on track to produce more than 460,500 kilowatts this year, more than the estimated 375,000 kilowatts, Mr. Sandwisch said, adding that he purposely predicted the lowest numbers as he planned the project.

"We had to sell it at the most conservative," he said. "We have to hit a home run. We can't hit a foul ball."

Oregon school doesn't own the turbines but leases them through SUREnergy, a renewable-energy company from Sandusky.

The lease requires the district to pay about $30,000 monthly to SUREnergy.


For those interested in learning more about the wind turbine initiative at Oregon City Schools, a public open house will take place at 6:30 p.m. today in the auditorium at Clay High School, 5665 Seaman Rd.

School officials will answer questions, show photographs, and talk about how much electricity the district’s three turbines are expected to produce. They will give a tour of the Clay turbine, depending on the weather, at about 7:30 p.m.

Before the wind turbines, electricity bills at the high school were $17,022 on average last year. The district will also own renewable energy credits it can sell to offset the costs.

The district also has a $500,000 guarantee from SUREnergy and the turbine manufacturer that it will not pay more for the turbines than what it did to Toledo Edison, Mr. Sandwisch added.

School officials said they want to finance other energy improvements, such as solar panels on Starr Elementary School's roof and a biomass furnace to heat Jerusalem Elementary School.

Last week's ceremony also featured a giant cake shaped like a wind turbine that at 7 feet was taller than the people in the room.

Clay students drew up the engineering plans for the confection -- including the motor inside it to turn the blades -- and baked eight large sheet cakes to assemble it together around PVC pipe.

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