Northumberland County’s wind turbine is similar to the one that Clover Hill High School hopes to erect. Photo by Jenny Dunaway
No one ever said there wouldn't be turbulence. Weeks after a grant to fund its ambitious wind-turbine project was announced and despite a positive public hearing in early October, the approvals process has somewhat knocked the wind out of Clover Hill High School's sails. "There are still a number of questions from the planning commission relating to the turbine's location on the school site and its safety," says Deborah E. Marks, principal of the Chesterfield County school.
At the Oct. 15 hearing that was scheduled to consider the application — the first of its kind for a Chesterfield school — concerns were cited over the appropriateness of the existing wind-turbine ordinance for public facilities. The case has been deferred until the commission's Nov. 19 meeting.
Even without this latest hurdle, the school would have its work cut out to get the turbine up and running by its March target. While the grant — from the Dominion Foundation — is for $7,500, the project's total estimated cost is just under $21,000. Marks is relying on both monetary and in-kind donations of manual labor from students' parents to make up the difference.
Despite these challenges, Marks enthuses about the educational rewards for her students. "STEM
[science, technology, engineering and math] is what this is all about. We're trying to incorporate all areas of the curriculum.
"We'll have software that will enable us to talk to schools not just in the United States but all around the world that are doing the same thing," Marks adds. "There are schools in Harrisonburg, Northumberland County and Suffolk City that have turbines, so we're surrounded by them. It's going to be so cool."