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WECC made the news in Drummond, Oklahoma recently as well.
By Jessica Salmond, Staff WriterEnid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. — After the first month of energy production, Drummond Public Schools joins a small population of state schools turning to wind power.
The five Drummond wind turbines completed the first month of production in June, as the grant for the project closed out Friday. A provision of the grant stipulated 50 kilowatts of wind power. Originally, the plan was to build one wind turbine to generate that amount of power, but instead, five 10-kilowatt turbines were built, said Mike Woods, Drummond superintendent.
The town of Drummond was the recipient of the grant. Collaboration between the town and the school allowed the school to benefit from the grant. Wecc LLC, a renewable energy consultant company, was instrumental in helping develop the project and make decisions about the turbines.
David Burford, Drummond’s mayor during a majority of the grant process, sees the turbines as an investment.
“Why not spend the money toward the future?” Burford said. “Anybody that’s looking toward the future should be looking at the schools.”
The school could not secure the funds for the project because it was not eligible. After presenting the project to the town board, the town applied for the grant, Burford said. The board was supportive of the idea.
“As long as I see those blades moving I can see them generating electricity for the future, which is our school,” Burford said.
Mike Steinke, executive managing partner at Wecc, helped get the needed information to decide if wind energy was the right option for the school, and also aided officials in obtaining grant funds, Woods said. Typically, Wecc is involved more with the development of wind farms and distributed energy project. However, Steinke said the company helped Drummond with the project because of the educational benefits.
“It’s such a good one from an educational standpoint,” Steinke said.
Few schools in Oklahoma have turbines to help cover costs. Steinke said Drummond would be one of a handful using such an innovative idea.
“It’s cutting-edge for a small community,” Steinke said. “It’s something for them to be proud of.”
One provision of the grant specified the turbines had to be made by an American manufacturer, Woods said. The 10-kilowatt turbines in Drummond were produced from Bergey Windpower Corp., a company based in Oklahoma.
The energy produced belongs to the school and first will be used to power the new ag building; however, it will only take an estimated 30 percent of produced energy to run it. To power the whole school with wind energy would require a bigger grant and a bigger turbine, Steinke said. The cost to power the entire school would be too high. The remaining power will be sold to OG&E Electric Services, Woods said.
“Small schools have to be innovative or we’re not going to survive,” Woods said.
The blue and gold turbines — Drummond Public Schools’ colors — will serve some educational purposes, too, Woods said. The data collected from the turbines hopefully will be used in the classroom, especially for science and math purposes. Woods hopes the turbines can serve as a model for businesses and other schools to see whether it would be a viable option for someone considering wind power.
Drummond school’s next project is a monolithic dome structure: 32 feet tall by 125 feet in diameter, to hold a PE area, large classroom and a stage. The entire building also will be a safe room rated to withstand an EF-5 tornado.
For now, though, Woods said the school is going to enjoy the fact the project is done, after the grant was awarded to Drummond nearly four years ago in 2009.
“We’re catching our breath … letting the dust settle,” Woods said. “We’re enjoying watching them spin.”