Wyatt considers using wind to power sewage treatment plant

By: Brandon Lewis Email
By: Brandon Lewis Email

St. Joseph County officials believe a turbine could offset future sewer rate increases and met to discuss the option Thursday night.

Back in 2005, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management ordered Wyatt to install a sewage system or residents could be evicted. Since then, most residents have hooked into the newly installed line.

The construction cost about $1 million, however the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave Wyatt a $1.4 million loan, of which it only has to pay back 25-percent. The sewer board could opt not to use the remaining $400,000, however they want to put the money towards a wind turbine to offset some of the future electricity rate hikes.

"I think folks are trying to find ways to reduce costs and use renewable energy to do that. This is an opportunity here for the people of Wyatt because the costs of the project is lower than we expected and if they're game we're going to give it a try.," said Ken Jones of engineering consulting firm Wightman Petrie.

The turbine under consideration would cost about $379,000, but under the terms of the USDA loan, Wyatt would only have to pay $94,750.

Officials determined the turbine would cost the town an extra $553 a month in loan repayments, but it would generate $1097, saving residents $544 a month.

"We find ourselves working on these small town sewer projects quite often and we're trying to find solutions like this in every case. The goal is if we can't save money on infrastructure costs, maybe we can save money in cost of operation," said Jones.

The sewer board will decide later this spring if it decides to go ahead with the turbine plan.

Some residents expressed skepticism it would generate enough power to save money, but were willing to go ahead with the project in the end.

It would take about six to eight months after final approval is given for the wind turbine to be installed.

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