Time to make final wind turbine decision

After seven years in the making, the University’s wind turbine project may yet again be delayed as University administrators question its placement on the next Board of Trustees agenda.

The year-long grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation expires on May 31. Should it choose to, this would be the University’s fourth time applying for the grant.

Continued waffling over a project that has been in the planning stages for too long, purely as a result of halted administrative action, is a waste of University and the Student Sustainability Committee’s resources. And even after reapplying for the grant, there is no guarantee that our campus will receive this funding again.

The 1.65 megawatt turbine, which would be assembled on the University’s South Farms, had a budgeted cost of $4.5 million.

This budgeted amount was allocated in part from a $2 million grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and $500,000 from the Student Sustainability Committee, or SSC.

However, the University estimated the project’s cost at $5.2 million, and University administration gave the SSC an ultimatum in February to provide the extra $700,000 worth of funding to ensure its appearance on the March board meeting agenda. But in March, the item was again removed.

President Michael Hogan publicly endorsed the project, guaranteeing monetary support for the additional funding in conjunction with SSC, which is now providing $640,000 in funding. Although his support for the project is valuable, his stance has played a minimal role in pushing the project forward, given its removal from the board’s March agenda.

Rather then continuing to delay a decision on the project, the Board of Trustees needs to make a final call: Kill the project or run with it.

Continuing a prolonged decision process on this project ultimately conveys a poor reflection on the administrative structure of this university.

Given the high caliber education that is associated with the University of Illinois system, an additional delay with this project is, frankly, an embarrassment.