The Beacon Newspaper:
Governments, schools looking at wind energy
By Matt Brennan For The Beacon-News Nov 1, 2010 05:41PM
Hinckley-Big Rock Middle School windmill spins in the wind on Monday.
The machine could produce as much as 8 kilowatts of electricity per
day, according to science teacher Matt Olson. | Brian Powers~Staff
As sure as the wind blows in Illinois, there are people in the area putting it to good use.
As the mindset shifts to “thinking green,” area municipalities and schools are changing the way they think about power.
Among the green alternatives out there are wind turbines, which produce “clean” electricity and, in the long run, revenue.
Township built and activated a 140-foot, 10-kilowatt wind turbine at
its grounds on Butterfield Road in July. Highway Commissioner John
Shoemaker said it is part of an effort to free the township from some of
its previous sources of power.
“I really had the vision of making us independent of some of the sources we’ve had in the past,” he said.
anticipated gain from the energy produced by the windmill is about
what the township pays to power streetlights, Shoemaker said. So the
township sells that energy back to the ComEd grid to finance its own
energy costs, he said.
“We’re trying to be good stewards of how to use the money of the township taxpayer,” he said.
is too early to review the production and get an accurate idea for how
much energy it will produce, Shoemaker said. It will take about four
years to reach the return on the investment, he said.
The wind turbine was paid for by a grant from the state, and Shoemaker hopes to soon have another one up and running.
the turbines have a financial benefit, they are also educational.
Shoemaker said he plans to have students through the facility on field
Rock Middle School students would not have to go that far to see an
operational turbine. The School District recently added one to the
middle school campus in Big Rock.
middle school science students have been working on an energy unit,
science teacher Matt Olson said. The school already had solar panels on
the roof, and now the students have another source of first-hand data.
they will compare solar and wind power, to see which one is a better
source of energy in this area, Olson said. They will compare their data
with other schools in the area doing the same thing, to get a wider
“We’ll be talking about whether it’s feasible in this area to install solar or wind,” he said.
students will also receive a business understanding on the forms of
green energy, Olson said. They will begin to see which forms of energy
are more profitable.
“It’s kind of nice,” he said. “We’re not just teaching about it. We have them here at the school.”
students had not yet completed the unit, but Olson noted that solar
panels are a more consistent source of energy than wind turbines. The
panels do not produce as high of a level of energy, though, he said.
wind turbine at the middle school is a 45-foot tower at the back of
the property. The school received both solar and wind equipment through
grants that Olson had applied for.
was looking for things to add to the classroom that are more exciting
than reading out of the book,” he said. “It doesn’t ever hurt to apply
for this kind of stuff.”
‘Time is right’
the grants that are available from the state, the time is right to
begin a solar project, according to Mark Baum, director of business
development with Wegman Construction.
constructed the turbine for Aurora Township. It is a service the
company recently started providing, but not enough people are taking
advantage of it, he said.
They have assembled one other turbine, in Metamora, he said.
Baum, things like the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico serve as
signs that the country needs to seriously begin looking for more
alternative energy sources.
“We’re long overdue,” he said. “It’s certainly a greener, cleaner source of energy.”
There is grant money available to municipalities to complete wind projects, Baum said.
“The time is right to consider ‘small wind,’” Baum said.
Hinckley-Big Rock Middle School to dedicate wind turbine
By DANA HERRA firstname.lastname@example.org