EL DORADO, Kansas – El Dorado had big dreams of saving money with wind turbine to power its water treatment plant and hundreds of homes.
In fact, KSN News was there as city leaders celebrated with a ribbon cutting 18 months ago.
The blades were turning at that point but apparently not much since then due to a lightning strike.
Now, some are concerned it’s turned into a drain on the community.
“There was citizen support. The commission was in full support of it. The reality of it today though is that we’re very disappointed in the performance of the turbine,” said Bill Young, El Dorado City Commissioner.
Disappointment and frustration, that’s how city commissioners describe the challenge of what was supposed to be a money-saver for citizens of El Dorado.
Instead, commissioners say its been a series of trial and error trying to get it to work consistently.
“Over the last year, we’ve had that storm event that caused some damage, we’ve had two lightning strikes, and so Mother Nature has caused us some challenges, the most recent lightning strike being about a week ago,” said Kurt Bookout, El Dorado Public Utilities Director.
That’s why the machine isn’t turning today despite the wind blowing.
The replacement part should be in later this week.
There have been some victories.
Before the lightning strike took the turbine down, it had produced 87,000 kilowatt-hours in a week’s time. It is about $10,000 worth which was enough power to keep the El Dorado wetlands and water reclamation running for half a month and helping the city fulfill their original goal.
“If we can make $20,000 a month,saving that much electricity, than that’s a huge advantage and certainly would help us prolong any rate increases in the future,” said Bookout.
For now, officials say they’re being realistic about the project and don’t expect to spend any more money than is necessary.
“Aside from general maintenance, as you would have on any piece of equipment that you would have on any piece of equipment that you own, there are plans in place to remediate those other challenges,” said Young.
City commissioners will be receiving an update on the status of the wind turbine at their meeting tonight.