GREENTOWN — Eastern Howard school board members did not take a vote Tuesday night to officially abandon a wind turbine project, but they are already looking for other ways to reduce the district’s energy costs.
The board selected a firm to create an energy-savings contract for Eastern. EMCOR Construction Services out of Indianapolis is tasked with looking at other options.
After Tuesday’s board meeting, superintendent Tracy Caddell said the wind turbine project is essentially dead.
“There is no intent at this point to move forward with it,” Caddell said.
Earlier this month, board members announced they would drop the project if the opposition could gather 100 valid signatures by March 12.
On Monday, Jeff Cox, one of the leaders of the opposition, said opponents had gathered nearly 250 signatures.
Howard County officials have up to 15 days to validate all of the signatures, which the opponents said were collected from property owners and voters in the Eastern Howard school district.
Caddell said he assumes all of the signatures will be validated, and when that happens, the board will officially vote to drop the project.
He said Eastern will request to be removed from the Howard County Board of Zoning Appeals agenda as well. The district will no longer seek a zoning variance, asking for permission to install a wind turbine closer than 1 mile from a residential neighborhood.
“It’s disappointing,” Caddell said of the project ending. “But we will take a positive attitude and look for other ways we can reduce energy costs.”
EMCOR has already done a preliminary walk-through of all Eastern’s buildings.
Caddell said the company will likely look at ways to fix the schools’ heating and cooling problems.
That’s a high priority, the superintendent said. The elementary school had to close for a day last winter because it didn’t have heat in the cafeteria.
“That involves the health and safety of our kids,” he said.
The company may also explore solar and geothermal technologies. Caddell said opponents of the wind turbine project asked the district to look at these options, and it will.
But the energy-savings contract is in its earliest stages. Caddell said nothing has happened yet. The district still has to decide what exactly it wants to company to look at.
School board president Matt Adams said he is proud of all the work the district put into the wind turbine project
“It shows we’re looking outside the box,” he said.