Winds Of ‘Spare’ Change

SHERMAN – Wind power may be one way for the Sherman Central School board to save some money.

Sherman village officials and two companies specializing in wind power met with school officials recently to discuss a project being pursued by the village.

Shaun Lockett, vice president of sales for Aeronautica in Plymouth, Mass.; Rodney Weaver, project manager for Rural Generation and Wind Inc., of Hastings, N.Y.; Merle Good, sales representative for Rural Generation and Wind Inc.; and Jay Irwin, chief operator of the Sherman wastewater treatment plant, presented the various aspects of a plan to construct a wind turbine to generate the electricity used by the village.

Lockett told the board that, if constructed, the electrons from the turbine would be transferred into National Grid’s electrical system. The town would then receive a credit for the energy it produced. This is a process called “net metering,” which was established by New York state law.

“They just manage the bill,” Lockett said.

Since the electricity generated would be more than the village could use, it can provide it to other users, such as the school or area businesses, at a greatly reduced rate under a “power purchase agreement,” or PPA, Lockett said. This helps the village pay for construction of the turbine.

“It’s a great win for your town, and it’s a great win for your school,” he said.

Weaver told the board the PPA would benefit the school because it is the village that guarantees a fixed price, not the electric company.

“You don’t want to sell power to the grid,” he said. “The object is to get the maximum benefit PPA with the village that helps it with its payback.”

Gary DeLellis, school board member, asked if the school would be able to wait and enter into a contract later, but Irwin responded the village would also be offering a PPA to the local businesses if the school declines.

“As soon as we know where the school is going, we will take it from there,” Irwin said. “We are going ahead with this project, but we want to see who’s coming on board.”

Weaver said the project has already been in the works for seven months. Several organizations, such as National Grid and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, NYSERDA, have already endorsed the project.

Lockett said Aeronautica has turbines of this sort working in Chicago, Ohio and Long Island. The machines are modeled after ones made in Denmark more than 30 years ago that are still working. Furthermore, the big turbine is 87 percent American-made, while the smaller one is 75 percent American-made.

“Ninety-five percent of the time, the machine is available (operating),” Lockett said. “We warrant this, and we stand behind it. Anybody else that competes with us is selling a foreign machine.”