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Turbine scheduled to arrive in Evansville in August

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GINA R. HEINE
November 30, 2009
— A 155-foot wind turbine is scheduled to arrive in Evansville in August. It could be up and running by October.

That’s the latest timeline from city engineer Dave Sauer, who still is working on engineering details to prep the site starting in May.


“Everybody’s pretty excited about it,” he said. “It’s a good thing, the right thing to do.”


The Northwind 100 turbine is part of $7.2 million in upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment facility at 595 Water St. The upgrades are needed to comply with state Department of Natural Resources nitrate standards that have changed since the facility was built in 1982.


The City Council approved a wastewater rate increase this fall of more than 50 percent to help pay for the project.


C.D. Smith Construction of Fond du Lac started construction Aug. 31. The project is expected to be done by the end of 2010.


City officials planning the upgrades wanted to make the project as cost- and energy-efficient as possible, so the turbine came into the picture.


The wastewater treatment facility is a “pretty ideal” location for a turbine because all the land to the south of the site is zoned conservation so it won’t be developed, Sauer said. To the west is the city landfill, and the rest of the surrounding area is an industrial district. The land to the south also is at a lower elevation than the facility site, so it’s “kind of sitting on top of a hill that will always be open,” he said.


The turbine location is at least 1,000 feet from the nearest homes.


The city is contracting with H & H Solar Energy of Madison for the turbine work. The company’s winning bid was $489,000 while the total turbine project is $594,000, City Administrator Dan Wietecha said.


The city considered three models of turbines, but chose Northwind 100 because it generates more power over the long term and has a good track record, Sauer said. Evansville’s turbine will be the third of its kind installed in the state, he said.


The 100-kilowatt turbine has a tower height of 120 feet with a blade diameter of 69 feet. A wind assessment study at the site stated the average wind speed is 12.1 mph, Sauer said.


The unit produced the lowest sound of the models officials considered. With 25 mph winds, the turbine would generate 103 decibels of sound at ground level in close proximity, Sauer said.


The turbine payback period is expected to be a little less than 17 years, Sauer said. The city is receiving $175,000 in grants from Focus on Energy and WPPI Energy. The city also is entering a 13-year contract for WPPI to buy the energy produced from the turbine. WPPI will pay $257,400 up front for the energy, Sauer said.


After the 13-year contract expires, the city would have several options including entering into another buyback program or being compensated by WPPI as the power is produced, he said.


The energy produced will go into the distribution grid and be used by Evansville Water and Light customers, he said.


Sauer said people have been excited and positive about the project. Wietecha said he’s only had one resident from outside the city ask questions about payback, noise and electric rates.



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