Removal of wind turbines from One Government Center possible; upkeep, performance cited

The twisty white wind turbines installed on the roof of One Government Center, at top right, have been idle for nearly a year.
The twisty white wind turbines installed on the roof of One Government Center, at top right, have been idle for nearly a year.

The wind has blown across downtown Toledo for nearly a year, but it hasn’t done anything for the state of Ohio except flap the flag flying in front of One Government Center.

The four column-type wind turbines installed in 2010 on top of the building downtown cost the state of Ohio $224,300. They were meant to produce annual energy savings of $13,000 to $17,000, according to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services Web site.

But the turbines have sat idle since about March, 2012, said Beth Gianforcaro, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

“Around March of 2012, the Department of Administrative Services shut down the wind turbines due to maintenance and performance issues that were associated with the turbines, and since then, the state has been looking at options,” Ms. Gianforcaro said. “Either to repair them, to replace them, or to remove them altogether.”

The state has no recourse with the company that manufactured or installed the four turbines because both went out of business, Ms. Gianforcaro said.

She identified the manufacturer as Helix Wind Corp. of Poway, Calif. The company’s Web site is active but the phone is not answered and its messaging system does not operate.

Ms. Gianforcaro said she was unaware if the equipment carried a warranty and noted the state could not demand repairs because the company is defunct. The company’s Web site lists a single turbine with rotor dimensions of 4 feet wide by 16 feet high for sale for $17,500 each, putting the cost of four at $70,000. Installation costs were not listed.

The Ohio Building Authority owned the building when the four turbines were installed. “The Ohio Department of Administrative Services took over ownership of the building in 2012 and between January, 2012, until July, there was a transitional period,” Ms. Gianforcaro said.

In 2010, Mark Haberman, then-assistant executive director of the Ohio Building Authority, told The Blade that agency was considering wind turbines for the roofs of its other four buildings in the state and that the $224,300 investment was a move toward lower energy bills for the state.

The Web site for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services still states the four wind turbines in Toledo, capable of producing up to 20 kilowatts per hour, operate atop the building.

With about 730 hours in a month, that would normally produce about 14,600 kilowatts, a fraction of the more than 500,000 kilowatts the building consumes in a month.

The city of Toledo and Lucas County jointly occupy the majority of One Government Center but had nothing to do with the selection or installation of the turbines, officials said.

Toledo Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat said he noticed the turbines had stopped working last year but had no other information.

Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken said the county’s lease for space at One Government Center is up in June.

Mr. Gerken said the county plans to ask about energy costs and savings when it negotiates a new lease.

“We are looking to downsize the space we rent here,” he said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:imessina@theblade.comor 419-724-6171.