AURORA, Ill. (STMW) — A plan to install five wind turbines at the Aurora Police Department headquarters has been axed by Mayor Tom Weisner.

“In looking at the numbers, there’s probably a program that would have a better return on investment,” said Chief of Staff Carie Anne Ergo.

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Instead, Ergo said, the city will look to expand existing green programs, like the Waubonsee Greenworks partnership, designed to help local contractors undertake commercial and residential building audits, or the energy-efficiency grants intended for Aurora businesses and homeowners.

Ergo said the mayor’s office will send the agenda item back to the Finance Committee, asking that remaining funds from a $1.57 million U.S. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant be designated for a different use, instead of the wind turbines project.

City staff requested that Shaw Environmental complete a cost-benefit analysis of the project and first saw those numbers last week, concurrent with the Committee of the Whole meeting, Ergo said.

“We don’t have anyone (on staff) that is an expert in environmental issues,” Ergo said.

Because the grant required that the funds be obligated to the project by April 15, Ergo said the Finance Committee continued to move the project through the committee process.

Alderman Rick Lawrence, 4th Ward, raised concerns about the plan to install five wind turbines at the police headquarters at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

The project was slated to cost $213,500 and would have been funded by a $1.57 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant.

The 23-foot turbines. which would have been placed directly east of the police headquarters building on Indian Trail, would provide 7.5 kilowatts of power, according to Kris Kiszynski of Shaw Environmental, the firm slated to complete the project.

Lawrence said at the meeting that the turbine output did not justify the cost of the project.

“It’s still tax money being spent,” Lawrence said of the grant.

The turbines would have provided about .2 percent, or one-fifth of 1 percent, of the amount of power the police station now uses, or about as much power needed to power one to two homes, Kiszynski said.

Kiszynski said that would equal a savings of $560 to $1,200 a year.

But Barb Katterman, special assistant of development facilitation and the police headquarters project manager, said it would reduce the station’s energy use, would create jobs and could be used as an educational tool.

The agenda item was placed as unfinished business at the Committee of the Whole meeting last week and was scheduled to be considered at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, before Weisner sent the resolution back to the Finance Committee.

In late January, the city installed two 38-foot-tall wind turbines on McCoy Drive, at Waterford Drive and at Frontenac Street on Aurora’s far East Side.

The turbines, which were estimated to generate 10 to 20 times the amount of power the traffic signal would use, cost $117,400 and were also funded as part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant.

— Aurora Beacon-News, via the Sun-Times Media Wire