Turbine decision won’t come until springThe possibility of using the wind to supply electricity at the future East Ridge High School is being explored, but a final determination of whether to build a wind turbine on the campus is still a ways off, School District 833 officials said this week.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
The possibility of using the wind to supply electricity at the future East Ridge High School is being explored, but a final determination of whether to build a wind turbine on the campus is still a ways off, School District 833 officials said this week.
Earlier this month school district officials met with Woodbury officials to discuss district’s exploration phase of building the tower on the school campus, but did not discuss seeking funding mechanisms from the city. The school is currently under construction and slated to open fall 2009.
At the Jan. 16 Woodbury City Council workshop, district officials presented the basic concepts of what the wind turbine might look like, where it would be built and how much power it would actually supply to the school. But Supt. Tom Nelson did not say the decision to build the turbine depends on whether the city agrees to use its bonding authority to fund the project, which was reported in the Jan. 23 edition of the Woodbury Bulletin.
The city and school district have never held official discussions regarding the funding of the project, said Dwight Picha, Woodbury community development director.
“There have been no discussions about the bonding for that turbine,” Picha said.
Nelson said the school district is currently exploring the possibility of pursuing state and federal grants as funding sources for the turbine and will come to a determination this spring whether the project is feasible.
“The first thing we have to look at ‘Is it economically viable?’” Nelson said. “We want to know what’s the payback on (wind turbine) and does it makes sense economically.”
“The second question we have to ask is ‘Does it move us toward renewable energy?’
The school district is expected to answer those questions some time in April, Nelson said.
If the district does move ahead with formal plans to build a wind turbine on the East Ridge High School campus, the city of Woodbury would most likely require the project to be approved independently by the city, Picha said.
“A separate planning application for the wind turbine would have to be made if (the district) were to go ahead with it,” Picha said.
The city also has plans to look at other communities in the Twin Cities that have wind towers and the accompanying approval processes. Picha said the city currently does not have an ordinance addressing wind turbines, and may draft one after it explores how other cities have gone about approving the building of such structures.
Nelson said any decision to move forward with a proposal is at least three months away, but said district officials are cautiously optimistic on the impact a wind turbine at East Ridge High School could have for the community.
“I think (building a wind turbine) is a positive environmental statement for a school district or state or any entity to make,” Nelson. “It’s something we need to be looking at and exploring and I think it would be a great example for the whole area and school districts in general if we could accomplish something like that.”