Erie Schools: Wind Power Progress Report - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Erie Schools: Wind Power Progress Report

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While Mid-American is announcing that hundreds of wind turbines are going to be built in Fort Madison, IA, to harvest wind from all over the state, some Illinois cities are worried about just one turbine--the one powering their schools.

Several school districts in Illinois have wind turbines powering their schools, like Sherrard, and Bureau Valley, but in Erie, is the investment paying off?

"The job of the turbine is to generate electricity, so as a district, you use less electricity," says Erie Superintendent Brad Cox. "Therefore, you have the savings on the electric bill. And we have seen that."

Cox went on to explain that the energy generated from the turbine in Erie goes to lighting the four schools in the town, saving the district an average of $100,000 a year.

"If there is extra electricity, that is put into the Edison-Commonwealth grid and then sent out for other people to use."

The school district gets paid back for that extra energy through credits -- money that is taken off their energy bills later.

But even with the turbine doing well, Cox says it's not quite living up to original expectations.

"The actual reduction on our energy bill isn't quite what we hoped it would be. You combine that with the fact that when it was built, selling energy back, there was a lot more optimism there."

And slower production has pushed back how fast district leaders thought they might be able to pay off the $2.9 million project.

Cox says the original plan was to pay it off in 12-14 years. Now, it may be double that.