Pettisville school board members discussed at length delays in the wind turbine construction and the problems that may cause for the funding of the 2 million dollar project.
The news came during the board’s Monday, July 16 meeting.
In a conference call with Aaron Godwin, consultant for the project, board members learned that the last components of the wind turbine– the blades that turn the generator– are still in the manufacturing process.
Godwin said there is a possibility that the blades will not be ready for the August 31 deadline to have the project completed in order to receive funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.
The ARRA grant is the major source of funding for the wind turbine projects for three Ohio school districts, including Pettisville and Archbold.
Godwin told the board that the company manufacturing the blades had to move production to the United States so the districts could qualify for the federal grant money.
But there have been delays in getting the new manufacturing unit up and running, and it appears the company will not meet the August 31 deadline.
The company making the blades needs to build 10 of the fiberglass blades that are more than 80 feet long. Each blade takes five days to manufacture.
The first blades are scheduled for the district closest to the company.
The blades for Archbold are second in line, and the blades for Pettisville are last.
If the blades are not ready in time, the districts can request an extension of the grant deadline, but officials from the state indicated that an extension would not be approved.
While the districts have some financial protection as part of the contract with the wind turbine contractor, and the contractor is bonded to cover possible losses, Godwin said that could result in “complicated legal proceedings that could drag on, and only benefit the lawyers.”
Godwin’s firm is working with the contractor and the blade manufacturer to speed up the process by adding additional shifts and workers at the manufacturing facility, but it is not clear if this will happen, and if the blades will be ready.
They will also help the districts submit a request for extensions of the grant if that becomes a necessity.
The original contracts for the turbines called for their completion by April 30. The Ohio Department of Development, which is administering the turbine grants, already granted an extension until August 31.
A negotiated agreement with the contractor resulted in Pettisville receiving $15,000 per month in damages because the company did not meet the April 30 deadline.
But that agreement is strictly to cover damages such as the cost of electricity the turbine should have been generating, but didn’t, additional consultant fees, and insurance costs.
The district will still be eligible to recover the cost of lost funding due to missing the August deadline, although the legal process to do so could be cumbersome.
Godwin told the board he would get back to them im- mediately when he had an update on the process.
The wind turbine delays were also a topic of discussion at the Archbold Area School Board meeting, Monday night, July 16.
That board approved authorizing Godwin’s firm, the Renaissance Group, to act as the district representative to negotiate the lost generation issue.
David Deskins, Archbold superintendent, said the original agreement between the school district and the contractors called for $1,000 per day compensation for lost generation, but the company offered $500, up to $15,000 per month.
The school district could go to court for the full $1,000 figure, but that would involve legal fees and court action, and there is no guarantee the school district would win. There is no guarantee the district would receive any money at all if it lost the court action.
Deskins said the hub, the connection between the blades and the generator input shaft, is ready. Blades are expected in August.–D.J. Neuenschwander and David Pugh