2009-12-02 / Front Page

Wind Power Money Comes To Archbold, Pettisville Schools

by David Pugh Buckeye Staff Writer

The Archbold and Pettisville school districts will receive $750,000 each in grant money to install electricitygenerating wind turbines.

The grants were announced Monday by Ted Strickland, Ohio governor. The money comes from the federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as economic stimulus funds.

David Deskins, Archbold Area School District superintendent, said there will be a lot of restrictions on the grant money.

Because the money is from the ARRA, he said there is “a strong desire for transparency” in how the money is spent.

As of Monday, Deskins said he had not received the guidelines on spending ARRA funds.

On Our Way

“We are well on our way to installing a 500-kilowatt (kW) wind turbine,” said Deskins.

Originally, Archbold school officials were looking at a 750 kW turbine, but Deskins said the school wind power team couldn’t solidify plans for the larger unit due to cost.

The 500 kW turbines are estimated to cost about $1.5 million each. The new grant, combined with $125,000 each school received from the state capital projects budget, leaves each school with about $625,000 left to raise.

“We’re on the downhill side,” Deskins said.

The school will try to find the rest of the funds in the form of grants.

“There are other grant opportunities we are exploring,” he said.

“One of the goals we’ve been trying to push is to utilize grant funding and donations to the greatest extent possible. We will continue to do that as long as possible,” he said.

Last year, it was estimated a 500 kW wind turbine could save the district about $76,000 a year in electric bills.

But now that two of the district’s three buildings are buying electricity at a lower rate, the savings will be less.

Even so, the savings will be substantial, Deskins said.

Work on the Archbold wind power project began late in 2006.

Now, three years later, Deskins said he expects the wind team to firm up plans in the next four to five months.

The project could be near completion in 18 months.

“It’s tough to predict,” he said.

Just A Dream

Steve Switzer, superintendent of the Pettisville Local School District, said, “It has long been a Pettisville dream to build a new geothermallyheated and cooled building powered, as much as possible, by wind power. Until recently, it was just a dream.

“Today’s grant award has taken that from the dream category and placed it into the likely-to-happen category.

Switzer and Deskins said having the two similar wind turbine projects within a few miles of one another will benefit both.

Contractors can install two turbines without traveling a great distance, resulting in cost savings.

Plus, since both schools are near the Norfolk Southern twin-track mainline, and since wind turbines are delivered by rail, more cost savings will result.

Both schools plan to incorporate wind turbines into their curriculum, allowing students to study how wind turbines work, along with their benefits and impacts.

Consortia

The Archbold and Pettisville school districts are members of a wind power consortium, made up of the two school districts plus Northwest State Community College.

Deskins said Switzer “has been outstanding to work with.”

Switzer said Deskins “has been relentless in his pursuit of alternate funding and energy sources, both of which lower costs for taxpayers.

Deskins said most of the last three years has been spent in research.

For about a year, a wind test tower stood on Archbold Evangelical Church property near Archbold High School, gathering wind data. Deskins said the science teachers have been involved in collecting the data, he said.

That tower is currently standing near the Pettisville School.

Also, a great deal of time has been spent meeting with legislators; state agencies including the Department of Education, the Department of Development, and the offi ce of the governor; plus Green Energy Ohio and Toledo Edison, Deskins said.

“We are pleased our consortium efforts are paying off,” Switzer said.

Deskins said a lot of credit is due to the Archbold school district wind team.

Few Specifics

Deskins had few specifics on the turbine.

“We have begun examining specifications and types of instruments (turbines),” Deskins said.

“We are not ready to identify a specific company or type of instrument.”

The district is reviewing possible sites for the turbine.

Deskins could not nail down the physical dimensions of a new wind turbine.

“The higher you put it, the more electricity it will generate, so we want to put it up as high as possible.

“But the higher it goes, the more expensive it becomes. The higher the turbine, the more the crane cost goes up,” Deskins said.

Wind turbines are installed using special highlift cranes capable of reaching 200 feet or more.

Total

The Monday announcement covered wind and solar projects across the state totaling $13 million. In all, Ohio officials plan to spend $96 million on the State Energy Program.

Three projects were announced for Lucas County, including $420,000 for a 100 kW wind turbine for the Toledo Electric Joint Apprentice and Training Program, $306,837 for a 103 kW solar power system for the Toledo Zoo, and $282,264 for a 100 kW solar system for the Toledo Museum of Art.

Another $680,782 was awarded for a 250 kW solar power project at a factory site in Wood County.

Model

Deskins said the wind energy project is creating a model “that can be followed by other schools across the state” to build alternative energy projects.

“This award, through the State Department of Development, utilizing ARRA funds, is a great opportunity for Northwest Ohio and public schools in Ohio,” Deskins said.

“This is an exciting time, energy-wise, for Fulton County,” Switzer said.

“With these two grants, plus the plans that (the Gorham Fayette school district) has for a wind turbine, we are hopefully on the cutting edge of something that will benefit our students and communities,” Switzer said.

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King George I of England was a native of Germany who could not speak English. He communicated with his cabinet in French.

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