Union's wind turbine could generate savings, job training opportunities

2013-02-23T20:42:00Z 2013-02-23T21:29:04Z Union's wind turbine could generate savings, job training opportunitiesChas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 nwitimes.com
February 23, 2013 8:42 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 697 wants to add to its array of renewable energy sources at its headquarters near 73rd Avenue and Mississippi Street.

The union plans to construct a wind turbine on its property.

It would produce power for the IBEW facility, but the main objective of the project is to provide union members with on-site training opportunities with the turbine.

Ray Kasmark, business manager for IBEW Local 697, said other trades would be involved in constructing it. The project could begin in the summer.

Kasmark said the turbine would require little maintenance. It has a projected life expectancy of 25 years.

Jeff Ban, of DVG Inc., said the wind turbine would be about 160 feet tall from its base to the highest point of its propeller.

Ban said the wind turbine won't cause aesthetic issues and it won't diminish values of adjacent properties.

Because it will be built near Interstate 65, the small amount of noise produced by the structure would be drowned out by noise created on the interstate, he said.

Solar panels already are used at the IBEW facility for training purposes.

The union projects between 35 to 50 percent of the energy used at the facility could be generated from the panels and the wind turbine.

Merrillville doesn't have ordinances regarding the use of wind turbines, so the IBEW will ask town leaders to grant variances needed to install the structure, Ban said.

Although no approvals have yet been given, town leaders said they support the project.

"I know you will do a top-notch job," Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said to IBEW officials, "You always do."

Ban thinks Merrillville is becoming known for the renewable energy facilities  in the town. In addition to the solar panels and proposed wind turbine at the IBEW center, there are solar panels on the Town Hall's roof and at Merrillville High School.

Last year, a solar field was developed on Grand Boulevard south of 83rd Avenue.

Councilman Tom Goralczyk said the IBEW deserves credit for many of the renewable energy projects in town.

He said the union approached Merrillville about installing the panels at Town Hall. No town funds were used for that project, Goralczyk said.

He would like Merrillville officials to pursue other environmentally friendly projects, such as installing a wind turbine on town-owned property.

Goralczyk said he would have liked a turbine at Town Hall, but there isn't sufficient room there.

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