El Dorado residents will see a new sight in the sky south of town. The El Dorado Water Reclamation Facility wind turbine was erected on Monday.
“At a height of 326 feet, it certainly adds a new feature to the El Dorado skyline,” said Kurt Bookout, public utilities director.
The turbine is visible from every road that enters the city.
“People will know El Dorado believes in renewable energy,” Bookout said.
This is the cumulation of a lengthy project for the city. Thoughts of a turbine started in 2008 when the wetlands at the El Dorado Wetlands & Water Reclamation Facility won the national environmental project of the year award.
“This led our staff to look at grant opportunities to continue on that path of being environmentally responsible,” Bookout said.
The Department of Energy and an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants were available, totaling $1.1 million, about half of the cost of the turbine.
The city applied for and received the grants.
After many discussions with Westar and planning, the project moved forward.
“A lot of work was done before the turbine arrived,” Bookout said.
There was work to connect the turbine to the wastewater plant, as well as the Westar power grid.
Then the turbine was set up. It was delivered in three parts, two pieces of the base tower, which measured 240 feet; the nacelle gearbox, which weighed 50 tons; and the blades, which were 4 1/2 tons each.
“When the wind is blowing, the one megawatt wind turbine will produce all of the energy to run the waste water treatment facility,” Bookout said.
Any excess electricity will be sold on the Westar grid.
Now there is a two-week start up process called commissioning when engineers will be on-site to make sure everything is working properly.
“We hope to start using it in two weeks,” Bookout said.
There will be a ribbon cutting for the wind turbine sometime in October, but Bookout said they welcome people to go out and look at it now. One thing visitors to the plant would see now is the last 10 feet of the blades are turned, which is a braking system on the turbine. It also has an advanced weather station for wind speed, which communicates with the computer in the turbine to tell the motor which direction to point the blades to catch the most wind.
The turbine has a lifetime of 20 to 25 years and the city will see a return on their investment after six to seven years.