REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Testing the wind for a lesson

We might just learn a lesson from Sandusky High School -- in an ad hoc partnership with Toft's Dairy -- about which way the wind blo
Sandusky Register Staff
May 13, 2010

We might just learn a lesson from Sandusky High School -- in an ad hoc partnership with Toft's Dairy -- about which way the wind blows.

The Sandusky Schools district is seeking public input on the location of a "wind-farm sized" turbine that, it's hoped, will provide a good bit of the power needed to run the high school.

Meanwhile, Toft's Dairy is looking for the same thing, to account for a good bit of the west-side ice creamery's electricity needs.

Toft's has run into a zoning question: What, exactly, is an "inhabited structure?" A turbine has to be at least as far away from such a structure as the turbine is tall-- presumably in case it falls over.

Is a factory an "inhabited structure"? If so, is a school building full of students, teachers and staffers?

That's just one question. There are others, some of which, we're sure, no one's thought of yet. That's the name of the game with anything new.

Are any of these questions game-changers? No one seems to know. Will the rules be different for a pinwheel-type turbine (the propeller-on-a-stick most of us think of when we think of wind turbines) than they would be for, say, the cube-shaped structure at Lake Erie Industrial Park west of Port Clinton? How about the other various shapes of turbines?

One thing to keep in mind is that the rules and regulations surrounding most of the things we've been using for years have evolved over the years, and sometimes decades. It'll be the same with turbines, assuming they catch on in any big way.

And it might just be the experiences of Sandusky High School and Toft's Dairy -- not to mention the unfortunate case of the fly-apart turbine at Perkins High School -- might simply be Lesson One.

In which case, it's kind of appropriate schools have played a part.