The energy-efficiency program that installed new lights, insulation and fixtures in district buildings was fueled in part by an incentive program — mainly attractive lending opportunities — offered by the state. The middle school boiler project could qualify for the incentive program, but not if the CHS repairs are added, Smith said. Even so, money saved on heating costs at the middle school could be used to help finance the high school work, he said.
At the time, the middle school turbine project —- along with a smaller sibling NexGen erected to serve the city's sewage treatment plant — was touted as one of Ohio's top energy initiatives of the year. The turbines were erected at no cost, as long as the school district and city agreed to buy some of the power they produce for 10 years. The middle school turbine was expected to provide about 40 percent of the building's needs.
But while the treatment plant turbine has worked without a hitch, the middle school generator rarely worked more than a few weeks without a breakdown. NexGen, in its lawsuit, says the Indian company that made the turbine produced a machine that ultimately did not meet NexGen's specifications.
The high school chimney is part of the original building and decades old. An inspection of the school roof discovered some of the masonry is weak and crumbling, said Superintendent Kent Houston. The roof that needs attention was installed as part of a school expansion project in the 1980s, officials have said.