Harnessing the wind at East RidgeBuilding a wind turbine to generate energy for East Ridge High School was just “a good idea” when officials from School District 833 and the city of Woodbury first discussed it last winter.
By: Judy Spooner, Woodbury Bulletin
Building a wind turbine to generate energy for East Ridge High School was just “a good idea” when officials from School District 833 and the city of Woodbury first discussed it last winter.
It appears that the “good idea” will become a reality for the school being built at Pioneer Drive and Bailey Road in Woodbury.
District Superintendent Tom Nelson said he met with Woodbury officials on July 17.
“The project is moving ahead,” he said later that day.
Kraus Anderson, district school contractor, has hired a consulting firm to determine exactly where the turbine would be located and how high it should be, Nelson said.
With a decision expected from the city in about 60 days, the district is moving ahead as if the project will get the go-ahead from Woodbury officials.
The city is in the process of coming up with an ordinance governing wind turbines, according to Nelson.
With contractors ready to put in parking lots at the school, the district decided to install electrical conduits under the parking area in anticipation that the project, the first wind turbine in the eastern metropolitan area, will be approved.
“If not, then we’ve spent some money,” Nelson said. “But I don’t think that will happen.”
Consultants will determine how much wind comes through the site, which is on the highest part of the 80 acres bought by the district, said Aaron Harper, East Ridge principal.
“The school is actually on a ridge,” he said.
Consultants will also determine how high the turbine should be. The higher the turbine, the more energy generated, but the cost of building it goes up as well, Harper said.
Harper said he expects the district will opt for a 170-foot high turbine that will generate 650 to 700 kilowatts that will take care of about half of the energy needed for the school site.
The district doesn’t plan on constructing a larger turbine to sell energy to Xcel Energy, he said, because Xcel would require that the all the energy generated go to company with the district having to buy it back.
“It’s not because of greed on the part of Xcel,” said Melissa Douglas, Woodbury city planner in an interview July 18, adding that it’s because of technical problems regarding connecting up with the energy grid.
The city is “generally supportive” of the district’s informal proposal, Douglas said.
The city has looked at about 20 ordinances regarding wind turbines and the planning department is drafting an ordinance that will be go before the planning commission Aug. 18 for discussion and comments from the public including district officials.
The Woodbury City Council will discuss it in September, and hold a public hearing with adoption of an ordinance expected in October, according to Douglas.
It will take 60 days to evaluate a district plan. If approved, a permit could be granted by the end of the year, Douglas said.