Taylor University takes down wind turbines because of cost of repairs

UPLAND -- Taylor University’s iconic turbines no longer tower over the flat landscape of Upland.The university encountered a series of problems with the turbines and it would cost more than $50,000 to repair them, according to Director of Media Relations Jim Garringer.

“It is pretty hard to imagine, for me, that the turbines are coming down,” Taylor student Hallie Charbogain said. “It’ll be strange to drive onto campus and not see the turbines right away. I am sure it will take some getting used to.”

Students affectionately dubbed the turbines the “Olson Twins” because of the turbines close proximity to Olson Hall, where Charbogain lives. Charbogain and several other women in the dormitory could be seen wearing T-shirts featuring “Mary-Kate and Ashley” around campus last school year.

Taylor’s student newspaper, The Echo, reported in April that turbines, which had an initial price tag of $700,000, had not operated for nearly six weeks due to safety issues.

“A routine inspection on February 20 revealed a cracked and worn connector between the hub and blades on one of the turbines,” The Echo reported.

Shortly after they were erected in 2011, the company from which the university purchased the turbines went out of business.

The turbines have often been a point of conversation among students. In 2014 Echo Reporter Julia Oller mentioned the turbines’ grease stains that many students mistook as rust. Garringer said the nose of one of the turbines fell to the ground in the spring of 2017.

When the turbines were operating correctly, they provided 12 percent — that 12 percent saved the university $18,000 to $20,000 on their electricity bill.

They were erected in 2011 and helped Euler Science Complex achieve a gold certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Euler’s LEED gold certification is not likely to be revoked now that the turbines have been removed. In order for that to happen, Euler would also have to lose its solar panels and geothermal cooling system as well, Ron Sutherland, vice president for business administration, told the Echo in April.

“It just increasingly was a situation where we didn’t know if they were going to be operating or not,” Garringer said. He added that the university is looking into other alternative sources of energy including solar panels.

All Energy Management, LLC of Wisconsin started taking the turbines down on Saturday, June 17 and completed by Tuesday, June 20. The material from the turbines is being shipped to Europe to be repurposed or restored, according to Garringer.

Haley Heath lives toward the center of Olson Hall but she said the young women who lived at the end, closer to the turbines, could hear them swirl.

“They might enjoy the peace and quiet again,” she said.


JUL 6 2017
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