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Wind power for East Ridge still a possibility

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School District 833 and Woodbury officials discussed the possibility of using the wind to supply power for East Ridge High School at a meeting Jan. 16.

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The school is under construction at Bailey Road and Pioneer Drive.

Jim Bain, district energy management coordinator, said a large wind turbine for the site could cost $1.5 million.

The district would use some of the money from the 2006 construction referendum that's funding construction of the new school and other projects throughout the district.

A decision on whether to use a turbine will be made by this spring, School District Superintendent Tom Nelson told the group.

Bain said a wind-powered turbine would need approval by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Public Utilities Commission and the city. It would also need to be approved for participation by Xcel Energy, which would take any excess power.

Towers higher than 200 feet need approval from the Federal Aviation Agency, a process which takes up to one year, Bain said.

A tower higher than 200 feet would need a city variance, according to Dwight Picha, Woodbury community development director. He said a special ordinance would be a better way to handle it.

The turbine tower would be 150 feet or higher, Bain said, adding that the higher the tower, the more wind is available.

The corner of the school's football field would be the best place to build a tower, Bain said, because it's over an outcropping of bedrock, which would help to anchor the tower.

The area is at least 1,000 feet from housing.

Tower blades spinning at 14 rotations per minute generate "minimal noise" in the range of 30 decibels, Bain said.

Rain noise is 50 decibels, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Carleton College in Northfield has a 270-foot wind turbine, erected in 2004, according to its Web site. It generates power for the campus. The amount of energy generated by an average 27 MPH wind could supply up to 600 homes.

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Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600
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