Boat business gets wind turbine

BAY TOWNSHIP, OHIO - This year will see the lowest electric bill in Happy Days Boating's 42-year history, said John Schroeder, the company's vice-president.

The reason? A 100-foot tower holding a pair of 25-foot blades that power an electricity-generating turbine was installed recently one afternoon. By 6 p.m. the blades were spinning and Happy Days' showroom and other buildings at 4151 W. Fremont Road were running on electricity generated by Ohio's number one source for renewable energy: wind.

"I've been thinking about it for about a year now," Schroeder said.

"We get plenty of wind here and our electricity costs are huge."

The turbine, manufactured in Canada and sold and installed by Engineered Process Systems in Huron and Fellhauer Mechanical Systems in Port Clinton, cost about $250,000. The price includes complete assembly and installation.

Mike Spacek, an electrical engineer with EPS, said the turbine installed at Happy Days will create about 100,000 kilowatt hours per year.

"That's enough to operate between 10 and 12 homes a year," Spacek said. Or, about $15,000 worth of electricity in most areas, he calculated.

John Schroeder said EPS conducted a study at the site in 2008 and determined the location was definitely suitable for renewable energy.

"They really sold us on it," he said.

Schroeder said the average wind speed at Happy Days was 14 mph.

"We have no obstructions around us," he pointed out. "Another factor is the amount we were paying per kilowatt hour," he added. "If we can save money and be green as a by-product," he said, "that's good."

One of the best things about wind power is that there are many grant opportunities for Ohio businesses and homeowners, according to Emily Sautter, wind program coordinator for Green Energy Ohio, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and economically sustainable energy policies in the state.

"It's a very good opportunity," she said. "Many grants pay up to 50 percent of the total cost," Sautter explained.

And, Sautter said, the Lake Erie shore is well suited to wind power.

"We do have a lot of test towers in the area, including one in Port Clinton," she said.

Happy Days received a clean energy grant through one of the state's renewable energy programs, which Sautter said are available for homeowners, too.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, residential systems are available for anywhere from $5,000-$50,000.

"We get more and more inquiries every day," Sautter said.

Mark Durbin, spokesman for Ohio Edison, said he knows of several wind turbines in this area.

"If an owner produces more energy than he uses, he'd get a credit on his bill," Durbin explained, describing the billing as a net-zero arrangement.

Schroeder explained that when his business uses less electricity than the wind turbine produces, his electric meter spins in reverse. Excess electricity is fed directly into the electric grid and distributed to other customers.

A state grant paid for about half of the Happy Days wind turbine.

"We applied for a federal grant, too," said Schroeder, "although that didn't pan out."

Paul Schroeder, who operates Fellhauer, said he has installed wind turbines in Huron and Lindsey and three in Perkins Township. And, he said, he has more lined up.

In fact, Schroeder is sold on renewable energy for his business, too.

"We plan on installing one at Fellhauer later in 2009," he said.

Durbin said utility companies are always looking for renewable power — especially now.

"If we can find renewable energy and make a profit," he said, "it's something we'd like to be a part of."



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