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Area districts get grants for wind energy

Erie and Sherrard school districts in the Illinois Quad-City area are closer to being powered by wind energy.

The Erie School District learned this week it will receive a $720,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation for a wind turbine project, while the Sherrard School District was notified of a $420,000 grant from the foundation for a wind turbine at Sherrard Junior/Senior High School.

Erie Superintendent Mike Ryan said bids for construction of the turbine and related building projects will be opened at a special board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the administration office.

The wind turbine will supply the energy needs for the district’s four schools and administration office, and the savings will be used for other building projects. A feasibility study was conducted before the district applied for the grant, and a wind metering tower was placed on the proposed turbine site to record wind pattern information.

Several of the 41 residents at Monday night’s regular school board meeting said they didn’t feel enough time had been given for consideration of the project, although the board and Johnson Controls of Moline have been discussing the wind turbine project for 16 months. An informational meeting was held in January, with only three residents attending.

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The Erie School District learned this week it will receive a $720,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation for a wind turbine project, while the Sherrard School District was notified of a $420,000 grant from the foundation for a wind turbine at Sherrard Junior/Senior High School.

Erie Superintendent Mike Ryan said bids for construction of the turbine and related building projects will be opened at a special board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the administration office.

The wind turbine will supply the energy needs for the district’s four schools and administration office,  and the savings will be used for other building projects. A feasibility study was conducted before the district applied for the grant, and a wind metering tower was placed on the proposed turbine site to record wind pattern information.

Several of the 41 residents at Monday night’s regular school board meeting said they didn’t feel enough time had been given for consideration of the project, although the board and Johnson Controls of Moline have been discussing the wind turbine project for 16 months. An informational meeting was held in January, with only three residents attending.

The whole package, estimated to cost $5.7 million, includes building the wind turbine, adding air conditioning to the remaining three of the district’s four buildings and adding a building at the middle school for locker rooms, rest rooms and a concession stand.

Funding would come from the grant and the rest financed with a 12-year payoff. No referendum would be needed because payments will be made with the savings on energy bills, which now cost the district $170,000 for electricity and $55,000 for gas annually, school officials said.

The air-conditioning project is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 17, the opening day of school, and the rest by Dec. 15.

In lower Rock Island County, the Sherrard district could be powered by wind energy by the fall of 2007.

“We scaled the project to solely meet our needs at the secondary campus,” said Sherrard Superintendent Robert Gillum. “That’s an all-electric facility and with the addition to the junior high several years ago, it’s quite a large capacity.”

The district budgets between $160,000 and $175,000 per year for electrical costs at the campus, including the sports complex.

“This wind turbine will produce enough electricity to offset all electrical costs in that building,” Gillum said.

It will be constructed on the northwest corner of the campus in back of a maintenance building.

Ameresco Energy Services Co. of Chicago has been working with Sherrard for more than one year on the $1.6 million project, the remainder of which will be funded through a bond sale.

Half the funds from the grant will be disbursed to the district when the turbine is ordered, with the balance paid when it is received.

Bureau Valley High School in Manlius was the first school in the state to own and operate a utility-sized wind turbine. The 660-kilowatt turbine, which came on-line in early 2005, fully powers the high school when it is generating at maximum capacity. The Bureau Valley School District expects the turbine to generate enough electricity to offset $100,000 per year in utility purchases, according to the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation.

The city desk can be contacted at (563) 383-2245 or newsroom@qctimes.com.


Source: http://www.qctimes.net/arti...

APR 27 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/2338-area-districts-get-grants-for-wind-energy
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