The Rust Belt has been hit hard by the recession and the small city of Conneaut, Ohio has been no exception. In 2009, community leaders stood committed to explore possible opportunities to rebuild their community and they identified a big one: capture the city‚Äôs wind to produce electricity.
The city‚Äôs location next to Lake Erie attracts boaters throughout the summer, but the wind pours off the lake throughout the year. City Manager Robert Schaumleffel recalls general agreement that wind turbines could provide reliable clean energy for the city, but the community had limited financial resources to purchase turbines. ‚ÄúHow in the world,‚ÄĚ he asked, ‚Äúcould we finance a wind project?‚ÄĚ
Eventually, the city connected with NexGen Energy. After careful evaluation, NexGen Energy proposed two turbines, one at a local school and a second at the wastewater treatment plant.
NexGen Energy offered to finance, install and operate the turbines in exchange for a commitment from the city and the school to purchase the electricity generated by the turbines at a predictable rate. Less than six months after the city and the school agreed, both turbines were up and running.
Kent Houston, Superintendent of Conneaut Area School District, noted that the projects actually save the city money. The electricity rates offered by NexGen Energy were lower than the electric utility rates. NexGen Energy‚Äôs involvement allowed the city and the school to realize these cost savings without having to pay for the expensive turbines with their limited funding.
Excitement in the Community
The whole community has been energized by the projects, according to Eric Nesbitt of the Port Authority. Many residents have praised the project, the school has collaborated with NexGen Energy to integrate wind education in the classroom and the city has planned a summertime 5K race to celebrate the wind turbines. Some boaters even use the tall wind turbines for navigation. Superintendent Houston remarked, ‚ÄúIt has been a little glimmer of hope for our community.‚Äú