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Posted on Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 10:18 a.m.

$1.4M wind project at Pioneer High School advances to next stage in 8-3 vote

By Ryan J. Stanton

After a nearly 40-minute debate Monday night, the Ann Arbor City Council has decided to move forward with the next phase of a wind energy project at Pioneer High School.

The council voted 8-3 to approve a $49,883 contract with CDM Smith for engineering services as the project heads into the environmental analysis phase, which includes further study and public outreach before an actual contract to construct a wind turbine comes back to council for approval.


"This finally gets it out to the community to let the community have the dialogue that we've kind of been hoping we would have," said Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward.

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

"I think this is going to be a lively debate in the community about whether this should be there or shouldn't be there, and there are pros and cons on both sides," said Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, adding she wasn't going to stand in the way of letting that debate happen.

"This finally gets it out to the community to let the community have the dialogue that we've kind of been hoping we would have," she said.

The three council members in favor of killing the project before it advances any further were Sumi Kailasapathy, Sally Hart Petersen and Jane Lumm.

Lumm and Kailasapathy both relied heavily on an email they received from Gregory Tarle, a physics professor at the University of Michigan who questions the $1.4 million project. The city received a federal grant for the project and isn't planning to spend any of its own cash.

Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, said it's still taxpayer money, though, and she's not convinced — based on the data Tarle has presented — that the turbine will even move. She said she now regrets her vote from earlier this year to accept the federal grant money for the project.

"We do want to spend it, but we want to spend taxpayer dollars wisely — not to show if you put the project on the wrong place, it's not going to work," she said.

"It's not too late. We really need to rethink this," she added. "I know it's federal dollars coming in, but it's not free dollars — it's taxpayer money. And it's our duty to be good stewards of that money."

Tarle emailed council members in April, saying he was concerned about spending such a large amount of taxpayer dollars for a project he doesn't think will produce good results. He said he teaches a class called "Energy for our Future" at U-M and effective wind turbines must be sited in places where the wind velocity is high and steady or where there are frequent high velocity gusts.

He argued wind resources are marginal at best in Ann Arbor, and a better place for a turbine would be near the shores of Lake Michigan — or better yet, offshore.

Lumm said given Tarle's expertise in the field, she found his arguments against the wind energy project to be "quite compelling."

Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, called city staff up to the lectern Monday night to reiterate why they thought it was a good project.

Brian Steglitz, a senior utilities engineer for the city and project manager, reminded council members that funding is coming from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the project is intended as an educational demonstration of wind energy.

He said New York-based Wind Products Inc., the developer the city is partnering with, is willing to guarantee the turbine will produce a minimum of 66,000 kWh of electricity per year. Pioneer High School would be the beneficiary of that arrangement with reduced electricity costs.

"The data we've received from the developer indicates that it will produce power," Steglitz said. "It's not a tremendous amount of power. We're talking about a 60-kilowatt turbine. It will offset a portion of the power of the high school. It won't be all the power, just a portion of the power."

Even if the turbine doesn't produce power, Steglitz said, the developer is willing to guarantee a certain level of production and will offset the cost to the school. He went on to indicate the school might save a few thousand dollars a year in electricity costs.


John Hieftje

The school's only responsibility is providing the space for the turbine. The developer would be responsible for operation and maintenance.

Though there has been talk in the past of potentially two turbines going in at Pioneer High, city staff indicated it's now just a single turbine standing 120 feet high with 60-foot diameter blades.

City officials said part of the challenge has been that the turbine has to be located on the site of whatever it's powering. City Administrator Steve Powers said the city searched as far as East Lansing for a place to install a turbine and Pioneer High School is "really our last location."

"I think it's a same that East Lansing isn't going to put up a maize and blue windmill for us, and I mean that," Briere responded.

Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, said he was willing to support the project based on the fact that it's intended to be educational.

"This is just going straight into the school. It's going to run a couple outlets basically," he said, adding it looks like the turbine would be running about 30 percent of the time.

"Some of that time, there will be students in a class, as part of this educational effort, who will have the opportunity to look at a data center that shows its output, shows the wind speed, shows the generation, shows temperature, shows all the environmental factors of what's going on, and how much power is going into the school," he said.

Mayor John Hieftje said he hears the concern that Ann Arbor isn't the best location for wind energy, but he said it's also not the most ideal place for solar.

"And we see probably the largest utility in our state wanting to install solar here, and it seems to work fairly well" he said. "We have people who are putting solar on their homes."

Hieftje said he did a quick calculation and determined the turbine could offset the carbon emissions of about 16 houses the size of his own.

"I've never expected that this wind generator would generate a lot," he said. "I'm actually happy with 66,000 kWh, and I'm guessing that's probably a conservative number … so I think it is worth exploring this to the next stage and getting the public input and doing the environmental study."

Hieftje said he doesn't disagree with the professor's email, but it's worth pointing out the U.S. Department of Energy is interested in seeing the project move forward.

"I don't know nearly as much about this as they do, and I don't think anyone here at the table does, so I'm happy to follow the lead of the U.S. Department of Energy," he said.

"I think they're very well aware that it's not going to produce much energy, and it's always been about the educational component," he added. "It might be a real bonus for our high school kids."

Kailasapathy raised concerns about the potential for noise pollution and wondered if the turbine would cause headaches or other side effects.

Steglitz said those kinds of concerns could be examined as part of the upcoming environmental assessment. He said project officials will be visiting a college in Indiana with a similar turbine to figure out everything they can about its operation and its impacts.

The City Council voted in January to accept a $951,500 federal grant for the project. The $484,390 local match for the grant is made up of $18,590 in city staff and $465,800 worth of work provided by Wind Products Inc. for the equipment and installation.

As for the costs to own and operate the turbine, city officials said, those will be handled in the agreements among the parties, but there will be no net cost to the city.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

The difference between competent local govt decisions and incompetent is wasting money and this is an enormous waste of tax dollars regardless of where they come from.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

Great. The Ann Arbor City Council votes to waste more public monies for expensive special interest projects that do nothing to protect our natural environment. But the Council has rewarded its friends and cronies and that is what they think government is all about.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

"single turbine standing 120 feet high with 60-foot diameter blades" This is going to look as badly as the thoughtless solar array on Plymouth road. These industrial applications in our face should really be considered carefully. The Wind Power industry should come up with a turbine model designed for urban environs...

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

They can't because there is no such model except in People's imaginations


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

"developer ... is willing to guarantee the turbine will produce a minimum of 66,000 kWh of electricity per year. " That is worth $6,600. Assuming no maintenance costs (which, of course, is not true), this project would pay back after a mere 200 years. Can we sue the city to stop them from embarking on such a wasteful project?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

What does UM have to sy about this and it's proximity to the stadium?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

Yes In My BackYard! Perhaps the investment is more of an advertisement for alternative energy? It would be a great addition to the skyline, especially when the Goodyear Blimp pans over the city several times each year at sporting events? How many millions of people will view the wind turbine as they travel to town over its lifetime? Free wind turbine? I'll take it!

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

Free wind turbine. Are you kidding? Taxpayers are footing a whopping bill to install and run this 'free' wind turbine!


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

alterego, "Free wind turbine? I'll take it! How did you come to the conclusion that this is free? Estimates say it is going to cost $1.4 million dollars and you say it is free? Who do you think is paying the $1.4 million? Oh, the federal government you say? And where do you think the federal government gets its money? From us taxpayers! So, are you sure you want to say it's free?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

Maybe you missed the point made by another wind developer who opposed this project because of his belief that these types of projects actually hurt the industry. A single, non-economically feasible wind turbine does not advance the cause of wind power but rather demonstrates the power of hot air. Put the wind turbine somewhere it makes sense. Next to Pioneer is not the spot.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

The only thing turning here are the screws on the taxpayers. They might as well build the kids a ferris wheel. At least that would turn and do something useful.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:50 a.m.

" Shame on Lumm, Kailasapathy, and Peterson for voting against accepting FEDERAL funds for an alternative energy project." Yes, you are right. We really should receive this grant from DOE (Department of Entropy). We can then add this funding to our myriad and beloved a2 city government entropic endeavors!

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Hooray for Lumm, Kailasapathy, and Peterson for acting responsiblly and voting down a wasteful project that does nothing positive for dealing with America's energy problems. I am tired of the other politicians on the Council that falsely posture about environmental concerns while rewarding their liberal special interest friends. That my friends is political corruption.

Lifelong A2

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

"Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, said it's still taxpayer money..." That's the Tea Party's mantra. Sumi needs to acknowledge she's not a Democrat (probably never has been) and belongs in the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Shame on Lumm, Kailasapathy, and Peterson for voting against accepting FEDERAL funds for an alternative energy project.

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

I am tired of left-wing politicians in this town voting for wasteful projects that help their friends get what they want. Government should not be in the business of providing jobs and money to special interests who should be funding their own projects or businesses if they think they have such great ideas.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

By capitalizing FEDERAL in federal funds does not mean that the taxpayers are not paying for it. We, the taxpayers, are paying for this wasteful project. How do you classify this as an "alternative energy project?" It will cost $1.4 million and save the school maybe $1,000 per year. Tell you what, give me $50,000 and I will pay you back $100 every year. Sounds like a good investment doesn't it?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:07 a.m.

Waste is waste, no matter who is paying for it. If the project was a viable demonstration of alternative energy, that would be something different. But we may as well install a water turbine there because everyone agrees that there isn't enough wind.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 11:49 p.m.

Would of been nice to have those funds go to bus transportation for our children so they can get to school. What a joke.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

I hope they have someone on staff that is willing to clean up all the dead birds they will find under these wind generators. As a previous homeowner of a 60ft. wind generator I can testify that they do kill birds.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

Have been wondering what PETA's opinion is on this sort of thing. They seem to be silent. I guess one social agenda programs can trump another.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

"I like the real time data analysis part with the students. . ." Yea, right. It would go something like this: "Can you believe some idiots actually spent $1.5 million to place a wind generator in an area with minimal wind?" "No kidding. No wind = no data. What a moronic nightmare." "By the way. . . My full-recourse student loans will carry a 7% or more interest rate. It will take me twenty-years to pay my loans after graduation. Why did our government waste money on projects like this, instead of funding education?" Real-time data analysis, indeed. . .


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

ten thumbs up!


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

I like the real time data analysis part with the students. It is projects like this that will stimulate students to become engineers. Aren't we (in the USA) not producing any home grown engineers? How many natural born US citizens born in the last 20 o 30 years go on to be Engineers? (hint: less and less).

Roger Kuhlman

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

America does not produce enough Engineers? You have to be kidding, The problem is that high-tech firms are importing more and more cheap foreign workers to fill engineering and information technology jobs in our country. A huge number of US citizens have computer science degrees but are not working in the information technology field because they can't find employment. Yet businesses demand more and more foreign workers to fill these jobs. We should put US citizens first not greedy businesses and insourced foreign workers.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

If students are only capable of comprehending real time data when the thing making it is within eyesight, then I don't have much faith in the engineers they'll make, no matter how many there are.

Maria Huffman

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

What about nearby wildlife, especially birds? How could they be affected?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

It is an important question that needs to be answered. Wind turine bird kills are a real problem. But the point that they will seldom move is a good one. Sad, but good.

Basic Bob

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Not at all since it will be dead 70% of the time.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

These are not hazardous to wildlife.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

"The three council members in favor of killing the project before it advances any further were Sumi Kailasapathy, Sally Hart Petersen and Jane Lumm." Kudos to Sumi, Sally & Jane for having the common sense to vote against this boondoggle! What a waste of taxpayer funds!


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Only in America..........."we better spend it before we lose it"............This will be an educational tool for sure, just not the kind of outcome they want.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

What a colossal waste of money and time by our elected officials. Does ANYONE on Council understand the concept of return on investment or payback? Spending $1.4 million to save "a few thousand dollars a year in electrical costs"??? Really? What does that teach the kids? If you some educational value, built a small, inexpensive wind turbine that isn't an eyesore in the middle of the city and doesn't kill flying animals. Voters should recall anyone who didn't vote NO on this absurd proposal.

David Cahill

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

I am concerned that Prof. Tarle's e-mail says "wind turbines displace base load power (much of which is carbon free nuclear power)". Displacing nuclear power is fine with me. What is Tarle's real agenda here? He seems to be in favor of nuclear power, and yet he claims he is an environmentalist? We might as well find out whether wind power is at all practical for Ann Arbor. This project seems to be a good way to answer the question.

Roger Kuhlman

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

David is it good for Ann Arbor and the Nation if it has a one million dollar subsidy attached to it paid by the taxpayers?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

Mr Cahill - Think about having someone in front of you on a one lane road, they accelerate for an 1/8 of a mile, then coast for an 1/8, then ride the brakes for an 1/8, and repeat it over and over again for say, 100 miles on this one lane road with no room to pass, and no where to get off (e.g. US-2 before the passing lanes were added following a camper and a boat trailer). Think not of what it does to your temper, but what it does to your gas milage. This is what happens to baseload when you get a day where the wind is highly variable.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

Maybe it would do better if it was at the top at a hill. Can we put it up at the top of Broadway somewhere?


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

If you watch the meeting, it is absolutely preposterous. I was HORRIFIED that Anglin voted for this; I thought he had some sense. I was flabbergasted by the attitude about whose money is being spent too. So many times it was repeated by the cheerleaders; "now AGAIN, this is NOT city money, right?" So apparently that makes it OK to so blatantly and knowlingly waste it. Kunselman cited EVERY benfit to be had from this; kids would be able to see wind speed and several other factors on a screen. That was it. So there's your educational component. And you have to have a million-dollar energy LOSS turbine attached to do this. Any other way would require some sort of....I dunno...massive, like WORLD WIDE web of cables. Some kind of..inter-networked series of devices that could communicate across long distances. Some sort of, like, web, or net, if you will, of inter-communicating..... These people should be ashamed of themselves. I mean, this is a CRIMINAL waste, and it's right out there, right out in the open. I can't believe any of these people have jobs. It's a real travesty. Thank you Lumm and Kailasapathy, for trying. It must have been heartbreaking to see so many people be that willfully stupid.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

"I don't know nearly as much about this as they do, and I don't think anyone here at the table does, so I'm happy to follow the lead of the U.S. Department of Energy," he said. Yes, they were right on the money with Solyndra.

Roger Kuhlman

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

Hey Ross, just ignore and deny reality about alternative energy projects sponsored by the Obama adminstration. Who cares about the truth? It is only left-wing dogmas and support for left-wing crony capitalists that matter.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:50 a.m.

Ross, you know nothing about me or what I know, but you ASSume i get my news from "faux news"? So you are saying Solyndra did not fail and did not receive a loan from the DOE?


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

Here you go Ross, write these down, it's a little out of date, feel free to update. Raser Technologies, got $33 million in 2010. Filed bankruptcy 2012, owes an additional $1.5 million in back taxes. Ecotality $126.2 million in 2009. Company CEO sat in First Lady's box in 2010 State of Union address. According to SEC filings, company cannot sustain profitability and is under investigation for insider trading. CEO subpoenaed. Nevada Geothermal 98.5 million in 2010. October 2011 NYT story: "company in financial turmoil". First Solar, $400 million loan guarantee. Feb. 2012 company halts production lays off 180 employees. Beacon Power $43 million loan guarantee. Fall of 2011, received a de-listing notice from NASDAQ and filed for bankruptcy. Solopower $10 million loan, $20 million tax credits -kaput. Fisker, $200+ million to build a plant in Joe Biden's Delaware. Bankrupt. Solyndra $535 million - gone And our own little slice of paradise - A123. Would you like some more Ross?


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

Solyndra was one failed program, do you know out of how many? Do you know the specifics of why they failed? Of course not, you just enjoy the faux-news talking point.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

This is at best irresponsible and short-sighted. It seems best to describe it, though, as gross negligence and mismanagement of tax dollars. When will our leaders get it in their heads that all tax dollars, even if not being spent from local taxes, ultimately comes from all of us. Wasting any of it on a partly spinning fan that barely powers anything is beyond belief. For people who supposedly care about the aesthetic of Ann Arbor, I cannot believe they want to erect this eyesore (and earsore when it actually gets enough wind to move).


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

Put it on top of the mayors house. All that hot air rising will make that wind turbine run constantly.

Roger Kuhlman

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

Love these comments. They are so funny and true to boot.


Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Can't do that. Turbine would have to be mounted facing down, so that the hot air rising would turn the blades. The huge volume of hot air rising would lift the turbine tower, pulling up the ground, and likely elevating a portion of Ann Arbor. This would create a large sinkhole, breaking sidewalks that now have to be redone by the city since they took them over after the residents had to pay out of their pockets to repair them. And, it likely will destroy a bike lane or two. Overall a bad idea...

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

I would have voted against this because of the reasons stated by the physics professor. I've seen those wind maps and we are in a very low wind zone. I hope that at least this project is set up to collect very accurate data so that it can be used to demonstrate the utility of wind turbine use in this area. Wouldn't it be nice if we doubters were wrong?

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

If the kids want to learn about windpower, why don't they *build* small wind turbines themselves (or in teams) and mount them on the roof of the school? Each student could have their own mini turbine. The educational value would dwarf this stupid and wasteful project.

Roger Kuhlman

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

Hey great. Get Obama on the line to propose this wonderful idea in another speech.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

Can the federal grant be used that way? Imagine how far that money could go for a use like that. The cost of entry for a turbine is a tiny surplus DC motor and some milk cartons, glue and tape. A few dollars tops. In fourth grade we wound wire into electric motors. This would be a way cooler project. The power generated could supply phone charging stations.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

Before they commit themselves, authorities should view the CBC documentary "Wind Rush": As much as 20% of the population is sensitive to infrasound, which is produced by wind turbines. The center of Ann Arbor is no place to install a wind turbine.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

ND Kelly. 1987. A Proposed Metric for Assessing the Potential of Community Annoyance from Wind Turbine Low Frequency Noise Emissions. 11 p. Prepared for US Dept of Energy. Presented at the Windpower 87 Conference and Exposition. Oct 5-8, 1987. San Francisco, CA. [Accessed July 9, 2013 at and]


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

(Ice-throw is also an issue...) Below is review of "wind turbine syndrome"--the effects of infrasound and low frequency noise--as currently understood by British MDs, plus advice to Canadian family physicians on what to look for: Farboud A et al. 2013. 'Wind turbine syndrome': fact or fiction? (Review). The Journal of Laryngology & Otology / Volume 127 / Issue 03 / March 2013, pp 222-226 Jeffery RD et al. 2013. Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines (Commentary). Can Fam Physician May 2013 59: 473-475.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:27 a.m.

Not to mention a blade flying through the air or killing birds, bats or anything that runs into the windmill. I can't give you statistics about how many blades have come off, but Elkton-Pigeon-Bayport elementary had two come flying off.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

the united states is the 2nd biggest producer of wind power in the world. A barely functioning educational toy is hardly needed.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

You forget to mention where the turbines are made - all in the USA, or do they come from Italy or China and other places on the pacific rim - or maybe somewhere else than the USA. Who furnishes the statistics that say No. 2 is true?? =

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

I might add that we didn't get to be #2 in production by building wind turbines where they don't work.

average joe

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

"( Students will have the) opportunity to look at a data center that shows its output, shows the wind speed, shows the generation, shows temperature, shows all the environmental factors of what's going on, and how much power is going into the school," (Steve Kunselman ) If this is all we will glean from this investment, why not just get the same data from a turbine that is already in operation? If this is truly an 'educational' tool, then it seems to me that one could enter into an agreement with a company that has them already & pull the 'current' data online. And the turbine doesn't have to be located in Michigan.

Hot Sam

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

They could accomplish these things with a web link to a functioning wind farm...


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 7:39 p.m.

Exactly. They could accomplish all of those educational goals by building a much smaller wind turbine at a fraction of the cost, or tie into one through a web feed as you say.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

The notion that the turbine "won't even move" is ridiculous. Sure, our wind power potential here is not very high. But the air still moves. Especially at 120+ feet in the air. The blades will spin, the generator will make electricity, contractors guarantee payment, the taxpayers spend very little, and the project goes forward. Everyone calm down.

Roger Kuhlman

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Yes no need to worry. This project is free. It has zero cost to taxpayers. If we need more money, we will get it from the Money Tree. Excellent.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

And birds will die and maybe, since there will probably not be a full-time watcher and people to make sure that the propellers are spinning; that they always do not need repair, you may see a blade leave the prop and decapitate someone or slam into a moving vehicle. As much money will have been spent, regardless of where the money comes from, the taxpayers will pay for it.. I like the comment about the students moaning and groaning because of the boredom involved. They could, of course, watch the windmill spin and maybe get a high out of that. This is just as ridiculous as the 360K for decorations on a bridge. It won't teach any student anything that can be learned through books and the computer.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 11:16 p.m.

Then, I should suggest that you pay for it!!!!


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

Don't know why you got negative votes and the positive thumbs up reply. The wind turbine can generate electricity at wind speeds as low as 5 mph. It is about the low fraction coefficient for the turbine blades to turn or rotate. Summer is about the only season where calm winds are significant at night. Much less frequent during the other three seasons. Thumbs up on the whole idea.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 5:31 p.m.

"But the air still moves" It has to move enough to overcome the friction in the turbine. The story quotes the advocate saying it would function 30% of the time. He forgot to mention that the wind is usually strongest at night.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Hoped this questionable project would have run out of "wind" by now. Free money, no, you pay for this from your federal taxes. At best, a meager return on expenditure. Who will pick up the carcasses of birds and bats these wind turbines are notorious for killing?


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Actually, if you *don't* believe this will happen, you'll be happy to volunteer since you won't have work to do.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

I think you should volunteer for that job, since you seem certain it will happen.

Joseph Welch's Ghost

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

DOE doesn't seem to think it's a waste of DOE's money.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Sam, what DB is referring to is that a fairly large portion of the "regular" DoE budget goes to nuclear weapons surety, dismantlement, and rebuilds. However, when the President's Green Cronyism slush fund was approved, DoE was tapped to be the administrator of that large pile as well.

Hot Sam

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

Not sure what your saying I some good? I am not a seeing me out :-)


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Hot Sam - The majority of DOE money goes to programs that used to be funded by the DOD. Go look at how the DOE spends money please.

Hot Sam

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

The majority of the DOE is a waste of money...


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

You mean the same DOE that brought you Solyndra, A123, Fisker, Raser Technologies, Ecotality, Nevada Geothermal, First Solar, Beacon Power, Solopower, Sun Power and Right Source? Add those loses up and you are at a MINIMUM of $1.9 Billion tax payer dollars - GONE.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

I doubt DOE is aware of the Return on Investment on this project, since it is part of a large grant program that congress passed in 2009. I doubt if they did know, and they could pull the grant back that they would let this go forward.

Joseph Welch's Ghost

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Deep breath. Watch the tape. No City money. Not intended to create massive power. Intended to serve an educational function for AAPS students. Contractor guarantees money to schools.

Roger Kuhlman

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Don't you love the phoniness and posturing of most the City Council and Mayor on this issue? What better way to undercut real environmentalism and environmental concerns.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 11:15 p.m.

This proves how to waste other people's money- may not be the citys but it came form somewhere- namely your other pocket. Also will teach that it will 200 years to recover $1.4 million dollar. No teaching lesson here other than the the number birds and bats that will be killed as a result


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

What kids are interested in watching the "data center?" Yes, kids, for class this hour, we are going to look at the meter. That way, you see how someone pays for something twice- first, through your taxes for the turbine, and again through the taxes they pay for me to educate you about the turbine. My kid would be bored to tears. In order to be equitable across the district, they should install a wind turbine at every high school. Not. "Lucky" Pioneer gets this precious commodity.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Contractor gets over a million from the federal govt. Promises to kickback some to the schools if it doesn't meet some low power standard.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

It's a huge waste of money, but that's OK because its other people's money? When do we stop the insanity, when as a people do we say "No! Enough of this!"

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

So break-even on the $1.4 million project will be in 200 years?

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Right you are, DonBee. I didn't include any of those typically very significant costs.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

If there is no need for maintenance over that time period, yes sir. No oil changes, no graffiti removal, no broken parts, no cable replacement, etc. At best we can expect the project to only lose $1.3 million before it has to be removed, at a cost that has not been specified. Maybe we can call the turbine "art" and not have to remove it in the future.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

"It might be a real bonus for our high school kids" says Mayor Hieftje. "It might be?" It either will be or it won't be, which is it mayor? "...there will be students in a class, as part of this educational effort, who will have the opportunity to look at a data center that shows its output, shows the wind speed, shows the generation, shows temperature, shows all the environmental factors of what's going on, and how much power is going into the school." Uh, you do realize there are websites that students can use that has all of this already? How about using the technology that already exists, and save some money?


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Ryan, Any chance we could get a link to the email from Tarle?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:17 a.m.

Thanks, Ryan. Professor Tarle's observations are very instructive. Now, can you provide the text of the U. S. Department of Energy's expression of interest in the windmill?

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Second part: "Please reconsider your decision to site these turbines in Ann Arbor. If you believe in expanded use of wind power and want to go ahead with this project, then please erect these turbines near the shores of Lake Michigan, or better yet, offshore. If wind is economical, you should be able to sell the power to the grid and make money for the city off the project. Finally, let me say that you should use the resources of the University of Michigan when making such decisions. There are many faculty members that would be more than happy to donate their time and advice on technical and policy issues such as these."

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

I'll just post the text here (two parts): "I am concerned about the recent decision to spend over a million dollars of taxpayer money on wind turbines sited in Ann Arbor. I am currently teaching a class "Energy for our Future" at the University of Michigan. One of the first things we learn when studying wind power is that the power you can get from a wind turbine goes as the cube of the wind velocity. Effective wind turbines must be sited in places where the wind velocity is high and steady or where there are frequent high velocity gusts. Attached is a map of US Wind Resources from the Department of Energy. As you can see, wind resources are marginal at best in Ann Arbor but are excellent offshore in the Great Lakes. Winds increase with altitude (because of wind shear) and that is why large towers are needed. It is not educational to site wind turbines at sites selected for non scientific reasons. "I know that you believe you are being a good steward of the environment by promoting wind power. I am an avid environmentalist and I am very worried about the accelerating global greenhouse gas emission. Do you understand that wind power (especially when poorly sited) has a large carbon footprint? With capacity factors of ~30% (at excellent locations) and highly fluctuating power output, wind turbines displace base load power (much of which is carbon free nuclear power) and require fast reacting (usually natural gas) backup power for the remaining 70%. Extending wind farms over large areas and improving electrical distribution grids alleviates this problem somewhat but it is still a problem. Wind is not as environmentally friendly as its proponents suggest."


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

"The council voted 8-3 to approve a $49,883 contract with CDM Smith for engineering services as the project heads into the environmental analysis phase, which includes further study and public outreach..." "Public outreach..." explains all we need to know. The board appproves the money so they can try to explain why this would be a good idea when majority of the public is against it. There is no debate. The board is using this time for public relations and trying to make this positive. They already have made up their minds. "The data we've received from the developer indicates that it will produce power..." How about using data from an independent study instead from a developer who is going to be making a lot of money off this.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

"There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed." - Siddhartha Gautama That the city would accept federal dollars to construct a wind turbine "that will not even move" is the pinnacle of its perversity and depravity. This is the same government that decided that the art ordinance was viable, even after the public voted it down. "Only a small percent voted against it, in terms of registered voters. That means that most are really for it." a2 government thinking is an oxymoron. It is repulsive, vomitous, and utterly shameful. . . Thanks to the three council people that voted against this folly.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

"Vomitous" - what a wonderful word. Says it all.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

Basically the Department of Energy has more money than they know what to do with. We might as well take it since it is guarranteed to be wasted some place else.

Basic Bob

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

but it's not as likely to be as wasteful if they put it someplace where the wind blows consistently.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

". . . environmental analysis phase, which includes further study and public outreach . . ." I suppose substituting outrage for outreach might be a reasonable predictor of the public's thoughts on this project.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

Wow. The largest utility in the state is installing solar here and the mayor sees that as a positive. Of course he neglects to mention that they have a deadline by which they have to have a certain amount of renewal resources like solar hooked up, and they have to put it where they can. And few are reluctant to spend the federal money, which is OUR MONEY. This is a total waste of taxpayer dollars.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

There already is a windmill at Skyline High which was put up w/ AAPS money, also as an educational project, which has a very poor payback since we have insufficient wind in our area. 66,000 Kilowatts a year is at best $7,000/year. At a taxpayer's cost of $1,400,000, that is a payback of 200 years. The life expectancy of a wind turbine is only about 20 years, with lots of expensive maintenance. Taxpayers paid for a wind turbine on the VA hospital in A2. It has never worked properly and creates NO power at all. Let's spend tax dollars prudently.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

"which is OUR MONEY." You say that like you believe it. LOL!