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Posted on Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Records show Pioneer High could be site of $1.4M wind energy project

By Ryan J. Stanton

Pioneer High School could be the future site of two towering wind turbines in Ann Arbor, according to city records obtained by under the Freedom of Information Act.

The city's proposed $1.4 million wind energy project in partnership with Ann Arbor Public Schools has been debated since it entered the public spotlight a few months ago.

But that debate largely has taken place without the general public knowing exactly where the turbines might go, or exactly how much energy they might produce.


One of two wind turbines proposed in Ann Arbor would be the same as this Gaia 11-kW turbine in Cross Village.

Courtesy of Lake Effect Energy Corp.

City officials have been hesitant to reveal specific details, only generally stating that the demonstration project would happen on school property somewhere in the city and would generate wind energy for the school system. obtained 16 pages of previously unreleased documents on Thursday, including the project budget the city submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy, and wind study data for two proposed sites at Pioneer High.

The studies were done by New York-based Wind Products Inc.

According to the wind study data, the potential net energy savings from both turbines combined over 20 years is a little less than $130,000.

The city is planning to partner with AAPS and Wind Products Inc. to potentially install two turbines — both atop 120-foot monopoles — on school property.

The total budget for the project is shown at $1.44 million, which includes $556,571 for equipment, $830,797 in contractual costs, and lesser amounts for worker wages, benefits and travel.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted 10-0 in January to accept and appropriate up to $951,500 in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy for the project.

The federal grant requires a $484,390 local match, but city officials have found a way around making a cash contribution. The city intends to partner with AAPS and Wind Products Inc. to provide the site and financing required for the match, so the city's contribution would be $18,590 in staff time.

It's expected the developer would construct the turbines and provide the public schools with a 20-year power purchase agreement that would help AAPS save on electricity costs.

Brian Steglitz, a senior utilities engineer for the city, has stated for months an exact location for the turbines hasn't been determined. Steglitz couldn't be reached to comment on the records showing two locations at Pioneer High were proposed months ago.

When asked at January's council meeting where the turbines might go, Steglitz told council members the school system specifically asked not to make the possible sites publicly available just yet.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Communications Director Liz Margolis said the district’s primary interest is the steady revenue stream the turbine project will bring in and the hands-on educational opportunities it can provide in the areas of science and technology.

The city is expected to lease the property for the wind turbine project from AAPS for a cost totaling about $2,000 per year, Margolis said.

“It’s a small amount, but we’ll take anything small we can get these day,” she said.


The records show the first wind turbine — an 11-kW Gaia turbine — proposed in a location just north of Pioneer High's outdoor track and east of the tennis courts.

Wind Analytics

The records obtained by show Wind Products Inc., doing business as Wind Analytics, provided the city with two separate wind data reports on Nov. 14 for two proposed locations at Pioneer High. They were prepared by Jack Murray, a project analyst with Wind Analytics.

The records show the first wind turbine — an 11-kW Gaia turbine — proposed in a location just north of Pioneer High's outdoor track and east of the tennis courts. A measure of the wind energy resource for the site determined an average wind speed of 9.5 mph.

With a 44-foot rotor diameter, the annual guaranteed production from the turbine is listed at 17,485 kWh per year.

Depending on the lease option chosen, the net energy savings over 20 years is shown ranging from $16,786 to $28,550.

The records show the second wind turbine — a 54.8-kW Endurance turbine — proposed in a location just south of the first one, along the western side of the outdoor track. A measure of the wind energy resource for the site determined an average wind speed of 9.3 mph.

With a 63-foot rotor diameter, the annual guaranteed production from the turbine is listed at 66,545 kWh per year.

Depending on the lease option chosen, the net energy savings over 20 years is shown ranging from $60,359 to $100,786.


The records show the second wind turbine — a 54.8-kW Endurance turbine — proposed in a location just south of the first one, along the western side of the outdoor track.

Wind Analytics

The proposed prices for wind energy from the turbines range from 3.1 to 6.3 cents per kWh, depending on the lease option, compared to 8.9 cents per kWh being paid now. The total estimated annual energy bill offset for the entire wind system is 2.3 percent.

In 2011, the average Michigan household consumed 8,196 kWh of energy, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That means the annual guaranteed production of the two turbines — 84,030 kWh — might be enough to offset the energy use and carbon emissions of 10 households.

Records show maintenance and repairs of both turbines would be the responsibility of Wind Products Inc., which would warranty all equipment and workmanship for the term of the lease.

The wind energy project requires relatively little involvement from AAPS, Margolis said, and it gets to participate in a local environmental initiative that benefits students and teachers.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn about wind and the powers of wind,” Margolis said.

Steglitz said last week the project still is in its infancy and the city is trying to develop agreements with the stakeholders involved before entering the next phase of work.

Once the agreements are in place and approved by the City Council, the project budget shows a $236,110 site analysis and an environmental impact study would follow.

Following that would be an outreach and education phase expected to cost $320,443, and then $140,999 for wind generator selection and procurement, and $724,033 for installation.

Margolis said she is not sure how far along the city’s wind energy project is at the moment, but she expects the district and the city will send out a notification to residents in the Pioneer area and allow them the opportunity to weigh in on the project.

Joe Woods, managing director of an Ohio-based wind energy company that has studied wind speeds in Washtenaw County, argued last week the $1.4 million project is a waste of taxpayer money.

The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the viability of wind energy technology and use it as an educational tool for the community and the schools. Project officials have said people seem to be misunderstanding the project — it isn't about setting up a commercially viable wind farm.

"I don't think that we are, as a city, indicating that we think Ann Arbor has this great wind resource and we want to tap into it," Steglitz told the City Council in January.

"What this is really about is educating the community about renewable sources of energy. And to have a wind turbine in the city, which is sort of a monument to renewable energy, sort of speaks a little bit to the community's goals and interests."

K-12 education reporter Danielle Arndt contributed to this report.

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.


John Floyd

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 : 4:02 a.m.

Ryan, good job here. Would like to see more investigative stories about our local governments. There already is a windmill on top of Skyline High. Sometimes it turns fast, often is moves slowly or not at all. In any case, seems to me that replicating this at Pioneer could provide lots of "Education" and "Demonstration" at a fraction of the cost, and without creating visual or noise pollution. As a bonus, the Skyline windmill is a screw design, not a blade design: No bird/bat kills. Go check it out, on N. Maple Rd, just north of M14.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 6:27 p.m.

Aren't we glad that states, counties, cities, can't print money...oh wait...they are using printed money for most of this inane project. WAFWOM! Saw this acronym in a text...the last words are waste of money, the first three you can figure out.

Mark Clevey

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

Michigan has several wind companies that can supply, install and service made-in-Michigan wind tubines and components. At least two of these companies reside in Ann Arbor. Michigan wind companies generate payrolls and taxes that support schools (such as Pioneer High School). Why isn't there a Made-in-Michigan preference on this project? To paraphrase Bob Dylan, we don't need an (Ohio) Weatherman to know which way the wind blows (in Ann Arbor). Buy Local!


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

My wife and I consider ourselves pretty darn green. We make a lot of choices based on environmental impact. We drive a PEV. But this is a HORRIBLE idea. It's not only a waste of money, but it's actually a waste of resources to erect these things for demonstrative purposes. I also live 1 block away from Pioneer. I will be at every council meeting where this issue is being debated and will take note as to who votes for this and actively campaign against them. Ridiculous.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 10:08 a.m.

I suggest that whoever is "looking" forward to "looking up" and learning all about wind power should be looking down at the roads in AA. Huron Ave is a good start and Jackson road just after it goes up the hill into the traffic under the overpass. Gone from AA for over 30 years some of the bad roads were just like they were then. Then there was an article recently about getting a new bridge "decorated" by painter that would get paid $263 or $363K for the decorations (which are badly needed for the roadways (not) - Tax, spend, borrow and elect and whoopee, you've a town that rates above everybody in greenie and stupidity - the grass grows green and the roads rot way. I think, but am not sure, that most of the voters in AA are liberals or vote records indicate they're liberal and probably the Democrat spenders take extreme advantage of it. Money, money everywhere but not enough from taxes - gotta go to the Big Gvt and get as much as you need to brag about the pretty (dumb) town you have.

Laurie Barrett

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:38 a.m.

If it isn't an eyesore it would be great if it generates power and succeeds as planned.

E. Daniel Ayres

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:02 a.m.

The Environmental Action folks at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Ann Arbor have already made somewhat less ambitious investments in both wind and solar power installations and the data from real world energy production from those investments is being displayed in real time along with pictures of the various components. The community is welcome to visit an already built "monument to renewable energy" there. We don't need more "demonstrations" we need a massive effort to convert our energy systems away from fossil fuels. If we do not, the "next generations" may be our last!


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 10:15 a.m.

E Daniels - you mean that the nasty old man-made global warming is going to kill all of us if we don't do something about it, RIGHT NOW? Algore will be happy to take more money in for the energy credits (not visible to the eye but visible in his wallet) that we all desperately need to keep from dying under that old hot sun.

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:52 a.m.

OK, so, the cost is $1,400000. The value of the energy generated will be $130,000. That means a loss of $1,310,000. Am I missing something?

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

For me, the point isn't where the money comes from. Whether it's grant money or not, It still comes from the people.


Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Yes. $400K fed grant and a matching $400k from sources other than the schools. AAPS are really only kicking in $18k....AND IT'S STILL A HORRIBLE IDEA!

Judith H

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

This is a good example of: ...wasting taxpayer money ...sneaking around to try to put something over on the residents ...putting up a monstrosity just so it can be crossed off the City "to do" list (ie, "see how green we are--we have wind turbines!") ...planning something 'environmental' without considering all the environmental consequences. The worst part, to me, is that the documents had to be FOIAed. This does not reflect the kind of government we should have in Ann Arbor.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 9:48 p.m.

From my memory, I'd have to guess there is not enough wind in A2 to make these turbines worthwhile. If there was, and it was a good idea, they wouldn't need a government grant.

Irvin Mermelstein

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

Ryan, Here is a city with a sewer and stormwater system that are screaming for upgrades. Not a penny for that. That makes this project even more grotesque. What worries me is the process here. It's secretive and undemocratic. It's absolute minimal transparency, not open government. This is exactly how the City has operated in another huge money-waster of a project, the Footing Drain Disconnect Program--citizens are to be kept in the dark. This kind of legislatingin the dark--as if the City is a theme park and the Council's job is to design the exciting new rides-- is not an exception. It is policy. Your story is the bright spot. Where would we be as a City without the press to turn over the rocks and report?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Wind can provide power? I never knew. Thank you for this very expensive educational demonstration.

John W. Wagner

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

To Voters in Ann Arbor: Voting has its consequences. This ridiculous windmill project, proposed by "low information" people chosen to spend our tax dollars, is a classic example of how they operate secretly behind closed doors and later implement. Ann Arbor conservatives need to vigorously oppose such failed ideas. This is only the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in our school system overwhelmingly composed of people promoting progressivism, an idea that will ultimately lead to the destruction of our Republic.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

At least our children, who are our future voters, consumers, and politicians, will have a chance first-hand to learn about boondoggles, and the worthlessness of wind energy capture where is no wind! Hurray!

Basic Bob

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

Don't hold your breath. The indoctrination will stifle any actual analysis. Much as the idea that a high school student driving a Japanese SUV while texting on a Chinese iPhone somehow improves the American economy.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Is Bill Proxmire's old "Golden Fleece" award still around? This one's incredibly blonde* and really bleats "Baaa" * no offense to blonde humans intended


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

How do they expect to get the equipment to the installation site, undamaged, over our crumbling roads?

Larry Baird

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

City leaders declare: "Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle........" Citizens reply: "Now look, your grace," said Sancho, "what you see over there aren't giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone."

Joel A. Levitt

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

Some may think that $1.44 million to power 10 homes is a bit excessive. They are not aware that providing power TO our turbines will turn them into giant fans, which can blow small holes in the overcast, thus enabling our high school students to learn about sunbeams and even moonbeams. Won't that be a howl!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Hook up wind turbines to the conference rooms in City Hall and Balas, and I guarantee the wind output will exceed all expectations. As this project stands, it is a waste, and another one of Ann Arbor's "feel-good" projects that sound good to a minority, while the majority ends up paying for it in the long run.

Dog Guy

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

Teaching kawoomp and learning kawoomp within the kawoomp intersecting kawoomp noise of two kawoomp turbines will kawoomp be challenging.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

LOL - The reality of these two turbines (combined) it that they will produce at most $13,445 in electricity each year base on current DTE RETAIL rates delivered. That is 16 cents per Kilowatt hour. At 3 percent interest the city would get $42,000 in payment each year. Even at 1 percent interest they would out earn the energy produced by the wind turbines. How dumb does the city council think the local population is? This is a travesty - a huge waste of government money - money that is coming from the taxes we all pay.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

Apparently dumb enough to keep re-electing a number of them.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

It will be a contest to climb and tag this with graffiti. Who can get their tag the highest, and the soonest - even before construction is complete. Watch it happen.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

The doomed and poor performance of this wind project will be included in statistical reports on wind energy performance, ROI, and efficiency. It is the sort of data that drags down wind energy stats, and makes wind energy look non-viable. The reality is, it is our local government that is non-viable, with brain-dead thinking. The public needs to get in front of city council and put a stop to this stupidity.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

Thanks for FOIAing these documents,! That it was necessary is perhaps the most disturbing aspect to all of this. People should take the Council and administration to task over it. What else are they hiding? They flat out lied about this plan and were exposed - partially at least - via FOIA.

David Muzzatti

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Ask anyone in Essex County, Ontario what the think of wind farms.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

I have family in Essex County, ON and often visit there. The wind turbines are considered a nuisance by a few people there, and the press plays up their objections to cause lots of drama. The turbines are all located on leased private property with setbacks, the sites were all selected using reliable third-party wind estimates, and the turbines are all owned by a single power-generation company under contract to the utility, and Canadian taxpayers and rate-payers are supporting above-market rates for the power they generate. There was no unit of local government involved in locating or siting Essex Co.'s wind turbines, except for zoning rules determining what the appropriate distance was between a turbine site and houses or the property line.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Any way you look at the figures, wind speeds and facts given, this project makes no sense. Only reason it sounds good to some is it is spending other peoples money for them to get a warm and fuzzy feeling for being "environmentally correct" and costs them nothing. Would be a completely different story if these nutcases were spending their own money on this.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

How is this going to look from the stadium? Does the 'U' have any say in this? I know this is pretty basic advice, but when dealing with the AAPS and The City, simpler is better. I suggest we make a PROS and CONS list, and see how that works out before committing any of our money to any project. I will start: Pros: 1. Some sort of educational opportunity Cons: 1. Very expensive and will not recover even 10% of it's installation costs in the first 20 years 2. Potential danger to birds, bats, insects etc. in the area, which is near a natural area, the Pioneer Prairie 3. Potential for disturbance of neighborhoods, school, and university property, visually, audibly 4. Potential dangers inherent with placing mechanical operations hundreds of feet above the ground, as well as high-voltage connections in 'learning environment' at ground level 5. Future maintenance costs unknown 6. Future of builder, installer and financiers unknown hmm... I tried to get more PROS but could not - anyone?...


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

Ooops - forgot one - Cons: 7. Disturbing the area where WESO Science Olympiad launches water bottle rockets - just yesterday at the closing ceremonies, Dr. Green announced that they have made a long term agreement with Pioneer HS to host the Science Olympics - where will they do water bottle rockets with a pair of wind turbine placed in yesterdays launch site?

glenn thompson

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Think how much better the learning experience would be if the students designed and built a small working turbine. They might learn that it is possible to engineer and build things themselves. they could do the economics and discover the necessary conditions to make a wind turbine cost effective. The entire project would cost much less than the "outreach and education phase expected to cost $320,443"


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

I have a friend who's brother trained to install these wind turbines..... I'll preface this as hearsay right now, so you can take it with however much salt you want... He stated that the wind turbine business is a racket right now. Since it's tax dollars spent on them 99% of the time they bill their labor out at exorbitant rates. He wouldn't tell me how much it was....but he said his boss was making so much money through this that he had Swiss bank accounts (I doubt he meant that literally...but you never know), and TONS of property. Like I said....take it with some salt...but looking at their budgeting breakdown posted in the article...that looks like a LOT of money for installation...and my friends brother DID just buy a brand new Saleen mustang... and a house... and he's only been at this job for about a year...


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

Sounds like the roofing business after the Dexter tornado----suddenly everyone in Ann Arbor/Scio had hail damage, lol.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

This is where your trillion dollars are going! I thought we are out of money. When it is not coming out of your pocket - you end up with pet projects like this! What' s next - Huron got left out. Skyline is going to complain that their non-function windmill is inadequate!!! Keep voting this way - we are all going to have masterpieces to show off with no food in our pantry!!!

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

This will be another momument to excess and waste of taxpayer money. Like the Taj Mahal downtown that voters rejected but that was built anyway. And the urinal/ashtray that passes for art in front of it.

Sean Thomas

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

.....Wait what are you referring to as the taj mahal?

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

How much noise will the turbines generate in the neighborhood? What will the impact be on sightlines in the area? Since this turbines will not generate meaningful power, is there really any point in it, and accepting the negatives?

Steve Bean

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

Again, not an endorsement, but no one beyond the school property would likely be able to hear the turbines, especially given the road traffic noise on Main and Stadium. The nearest house is probably 200 yards and across Main. The next nearest is probably 400+ yards and across Stadium.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Maybe the city could try one out in the Burns Park neighborhood first...

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

3dB is a Lot. Especially when you consider that it is continuously droning in the background, while you are trying to enjoy a moment of quiet with the birds on your deck. If these generated meaningful power, and a meaningful return on investment, it would be worth considering. But noise for nothing is pointless.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

check out page 6 of the report. 1-3 dBa to the ambient noise. comparable to a refrigerator in the area.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Holy Cow - The city is getting involved with the AAPS. Haven't seen that since, well, since a long time. How about figuring out a way to help resolve the $18 million budget deficit before flaunting a wasteful project in their (our) face.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

"Windfall" - a documentary on this subject. The many downsides are revealed.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

"The records obtained by show Wind Products Inc., doing business as Wind Analytics, provided the city with two separate wind data reports on Nov. 14 for two proposed locations at Pioneer High." That is a blatant conflict of interest. Get an independent wind study. Though it is hard to imagine the results could be any worse than this boondoggle.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

Additionally, this company has found a way to cook the books to get this deal. Somehow they've found a way around the federal matching funds requirement. That seems like a major loophole. This is federal wind money that is going to a non-viable project. It should be going to a community where it will make a difference, and where that community invests the appropriate matching funds.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2 p.m.

ah. btw.... coincidentally... there is a 'Leaman Energy LLC' that does wind power. I presume no relation to the Leaman at Pioneer.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

I think the conflict comes in that the wind study was done by the people getting the contract to build the turbines. Add to this a previous study that indicated this area was not practical and a conflict of interest question is reasonable.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

I'm trying to follow your idea... how is it a conflict of interest?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

My math sucks.But for two of them@ 1.4 million.At 120 ft each does that come out to about $5000 a foot ?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

I just remembered how to check my math.Closer to $6000 a foot

Kai Petainen

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

If this project was in the best interest of the city.... you shouldn't have had to FOIA for it. They would have presented this info with pride. Since you had to file a FOIA for it -- it's not in the best interest of the city.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Why waste any Ann Arbor taxpayer money on demonstration wind turbines that will not operate? Students can learn from written materials and view functioning wind turbines in real time by webcams at the following websites: Plus, I was looking up the cost of these windmills online -- I have no idea how they would cost only $1.4 million.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

They don't want to reveal the site because they know residents will be against it. No wonder they are expecting to spend $320,000 for outreach and education of the general public before installation.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

"has stated for months an exact location for the turbines hasn't been determined" and yet they did exactly that. Since the windmill is about education for the students, we already have a lesson for the kids at the school. "Students, it's ok to 'bend' the truth or avoid the complete truth once in a while. Adults do it as well."


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Youi can hang a small windmill to fullfil this educational "need" - Go olok at Skylines - which does not spin most of the time

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

I have checked the websites for both windmills proposed. In both cases we are below the minimum recommended 10 mph and that is the MINIMUM . As federal tax payers we should build these things in zones closer to optimal rather than below minimum.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

This sounds like a foolish project and an eyesore. Wouldn't installation of solar panel on the acres of rooftop at Pioneer make more sense?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Why is my Pioneer student telling me they may need to start "paying" to use the bathroom but yet there is $$ for this nonsense (still can't believe somehow this will cost AAPS zero dollars)? I agree with the comment they will need to hire security guards at night, and football saturdays for that matter!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Wha??? Pay to use the bathroom?!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Why is this project even still being talked about? It's already been OFFICIALLY DECLARED A BOONDOGGLE by their own "experts" please explain to me how they can even keep discussing this?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Uh, oh..... Better talk to the folks in Falmouth, MA about their experience with their "monument to renewable energy" first.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Wind is not the way. Yes, turbines kill birds and bats. They make noise, wear out and need maintenance. Why not erect solar panels over the parking lot that would both provide shade and provide clean, quiet and truly green energy. $1.5 million would likely provide a lot of power. I do also want to comment that all those who constantly complain on this blog rarely offer any constructive criticism. Yes, that is you right to yelp and scoff, but we will all do better working together to come up with good solutions. Jus' sayin'.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

Should see them in teh northern part of Ontario. Pretty cool is fyou ask me. Especially up near the Mackinaw.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

BleedsBlue - You live in a liberal Democratic city. That by it's very definition, they have the right to whine, yelp, and scoff, and absolve themselves of any responsibility thereafter.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

I agree. Great idea. How much money would solar panels save over 20 years? Common sense goes a long way, but we are talking about the AAPS.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

I'm a fan of functional renewable energy. Put windmills where the wind blows and put solar panels where the sun shines. As a nation if we want to reduce carbon and reduce dependence on foreign energy we should maximize the efficiency of our renewable sources by putting them first where they will work best.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

If you want to see windmills in action, go to Holland, Michigan. The Ann Arbor project will surely demonstrate the massive toll these monsters take on birds and bats. Where are the environmentalists on this issue?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

Mr. Cahill has an excelllent point. Why is every piece of info gotten only via FOIA? The leadership in this town does NOT have the residents' best interest at heart, here. Who do they serve?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

surely not the taxpayers

David Cahill

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Congrats for forcing the disclosure of these records, Ryan! The City is still enrolled in the Patricia Green School of Transparency: If you want information, file a Freedom of Information Act request. Disheartening.

Hugh Giariola

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Well, maybe the windmill is not right for Ann Arbor. It's more of a Chelsea idea. "MONORAIL!"

Michigan Man

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

Another bad idea in the long list of crap ideas from the current public school leadership. By the way, how much energy to these things really produce anyway? Few people really ever talk about the "net" energy ever produced. I am convinced these structures actually produce no usable energy at all, when all is said and done.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Lots of figures thrown about here. But it looks to me like $1.5 million will be expended plus some, and over a 20 year period there might be savings of approximately at most $120K. Hmmmm. Building, maintaining, leasing costs vs. savings. Not quite able to comprehend. Especially when the schools are supposed to be millions of dollars in the hole. Priorities


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

1) Windmill company assesses city, says a wind turbine doesn't make sense here. 2) Ann Arbor decides to do two of them 3) Savings over twenty years (2 decades) assuming zero maintenance for both: less than $130,000. 4) Cost: $1.4 million. Great lesson for the children. Is there any news or other organization that can be contacted to publicize this and bring some scrutiny into this town? Kind of like Problem Solvers, but a little more serious?

Kai Petainen

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 2:19 a.m.

i'm tempted to write about it.

Irvin Mermelstein

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

Call the Freep. They'd eat this story up. This is the sort of thing you read about in the Washington Post when the Defense Department was buying toilets at $6,000 a pop.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

"And kids, why did the city try and keep the project secret during the planning phase?" "Because it was a boondoggle!" "Exactly!"


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

"which is sort of a monument to renewable energy" No, it's another "monument" to fluffy, feel-good but otherwise useless things. Personally I don't need another mounument to the city's poor decision-making - I'm convinced already! What about this "hands-on" thing they keep talking about? Everything that is interesting about those turbines will be happening way up on a pole in the sky. It isn't like they'll be climbing up there for their "hands-on".

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

As others are saying this is a waste of tax payer money. Put windmills up where they will actually function. this notion of a monument to renewable energy or a demonstration of renewable energy is ridiculous. A little Googling this morning shows the United States is at the top of wind generated electricity in the world. That tells me 2 things...1. we don't need a demonstration of viablilty. 2. we got to be #1 by building windmills where they work.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

I missed it tdw. Rest assured I'm confident I would have appreciated it.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:52 p.m. comment towards you was removed.I think you would have found it to be a little humorous


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Please consider the health effects of children being exposed to the noise, vibration, flicker (can precipitate seizures in epileptics), and effect on sleep, mood etc, when exposed to wind turbines for 8-10 hours a day. See the Massachusetts Independent Wind Turbine Health Impact Study prepared for their department of environmental protection, and other such studies.

Steve Bean

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

From the study report in the link provided: "Scientific evidence suggests that shadow flicker does not pose a risk for eliciting seizures as a result of photic stimulation." Many non-findings in the report on other potential health impacts as well. I don't endorse this project, but absent specifics about the turbine designs and the best practices implemented (or not) by the installers, thinker's comments amount to scare mongering.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Oh, and I forgot to mention ice throw from the turbine blades. Want your kids hit by ice at how many mph?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

New outdoor sport activity for students, turbine climbing instead of rock climbing. How do you propose not to have students climb these after hours, hire a security guard after hours and a teacher during the day?

60's Dude

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

There is not enough wind in Ann Arbor!!! This is like throwing $1MM to the wind, but their isn't any wind. Very Irresponsible decision and spending. Although our benevolent Federeal gov is picking up 90% of the tab.... That is either a huge waste of tax money YOU have paid or more likely, deficit spending ( printing money) we don't really have, just adding another million to the trillions we've spent that we don't have. I think the Fereral, state, and local governments should have credit scores, like we do. Low score- too much debt, no loans. This is the biggest thing on the table. Why are we all ignoring? City council, reverse this vote. You are embarrassing Ann Arbor.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

Unbelievable that you have folks within the Ann Arbor City Council and AAPS that think this is a good investment on any level!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

Between the board and the city council? More hot air is going to come of it.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

Unfortunately, it's all too believable, given the past performance of both.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

This is an outrageous waste of taxpayer money in so many ways. I call upon the AAPS School Board members to step in and stop this now.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

This project is a terrible idea. First, any way you run the math, $130k savings over 20 years against an initial cost of $1.44 million is a very poor investment. Second, everyone in the area would have to look at 2 ugly 120' towers for the next several decades. Sorry, but there are much smarter and more cost effective ways to "educate the community about renewable forms of energy".

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

"There is a grant available for almost a million, making the cost about $480,000. Read the article." Read this: There no such thing as a money fairy. That money has to come from somewhere. If it's local money, it comes from us. It it's federal grant money, it comes from somebody else somewhere else who's just like us. Somebody has to pay for this waste just so City Council can feel good about their geenieness.

Chester Drawers

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

The 'almost a million' grant is a cost coming out of someone's pocket!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

Initial cost would not be $1.44 million, there is a grant available for almost a million, making the cost about $480,000. Read the article.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

who's going to pick up all the dead birds and bats? at least install the bladeless type, if you must do this at all. I'm sure the high school and neighborhood will not appreciate the noise either!

Irvin Mermelstein

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

vina2-- So right on the noise, and don't forget the monstrous size of this thing. I live in Lansdowne just south of Pioneer--we are already being flooded down here by development upstream. Our Ward 4 council members, Higgins and Teall, voted for this. Do you think her constituent in Lansdowne her about this from them? Forget about it! What's up with democracy in Ann Arbor (and Lansing) these days?


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Chopped up bird and bat parts will be a great addition to tennis and track meets.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

"who's going to pick up all the dead birds and bats? " don't worry... they'll hardly move... the birds and bats will figure out how to fly around a non-moving object.

Bob W

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

I believe the "bladeless" type you refer to is like the one at Skyline? If so they may look better aesthetically but they are less efficient for the intended purpose.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

I think it would be the same people who pick them off from the side of the roadway and railways of the land.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

No matter how this is portrayed it is a serious waste of tax payer dollars. Of course, it could be used as an example of bad use of money.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

Good idea but don't put up the wimpy 120' poles; go with the massive 350' units like were installed near Ludington. Then maybe people will see what a catastrophe these things are for the environment.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

I just give me...oh let's say.....30 grand and I'll make a to scale working model


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

I got a thumbs down.It must have been from someone who works on city council.Ok fine.I'll move out of state charge $250,000 AND I'll call it art.It's a win win for everyone

Long Time Resident

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

What a great educational tool! The children can learn how we got a $16 trillion dollar debt they will be stuck with! You mix a huge federal grant( hey, we have to take it or someone else will!), mix it with a phoney pie in the sky consultants report that pretends to know what energy costs will be over the next 20 years and then make up a pretend local match of $$$ that consists of staff time and land we already, and voila- another enormous waste of taxpayer money!


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

I especially like the "hands on" quote, 120 feet in the air, I'm guessing it really isn't going to be hands on just like the micro-wave tower installed at Huron high school isn't hands on either. Turning the schools into industrialized zones


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 11 a.m.

"It's a great opportunity to learn about wind and the powers of wind," Margolis said. No, it's a great opportunity to learn about hot air. At those wind speeds, it is not economically feasible. You could install a hydroelectric plant there and, while educational, it would also be a waste of money. This whole notion that because you have grant money that you should spend it is inane. The sidestepping of cost by having AAPS fund a portion by calling it "educational" is worse. In a time of budget cuts, there are much higher priorities for the AAPS. You can not demonstrate the "viability" of wind power by doing something so economically unviable. And in twenty years they will be expensive eyesores (and earsores).

Sam S Smith

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

If we are going to try this, here's my suggestion: Bemis and Platt Roads by Forsensic Center and Women's Huron Valley Corrections. It is so very windy out there!

This Post Doesn't Have A Name

Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 10:37 p.m.

"Toto, I don't think we're in Ann Arbor anymore...."

Bob W

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 10:23 a.m.

An expensive demonstration. Wouldn't some photos or movies incorporated within a lecture make more sense. It's a waste.