Wind farm bill signed into law

CARPENTERSVILLE – District 300 is one step closer to becoming one of the first Illinois school districts to use a wind farm to reduce energy costs.

Gov. Pat Quinn recently signed into law the School District Intergovernmental Cooperation Renewable Energy Act, which authorizes school districts to acquire and build facilities that convert wind or solar power to energy.

Last year, Carpentersville District 300 joined a School Wind Consortium with Keeneyville District 20 and Prospect Heights District 23.

With the new law that went into effect Friday, the three districts are onto Phase II of their project.

David Ulm, District 300’s supervisor of facilities and energy management, said the next step would be to negotiate an intergovernmental agreement to be signed by all three sometime in late July.

“This is about us trying to get creative to try to balance our budget,” Ulm said of the project, which is expected to return $60 million to the School Wind Consortium over its 30-year life span.

That’s the gross estimate, which doesn’t account for repayments of bonds, or operating and maintenance expenses that would deduct from that total.

But the overall goal is for the districts to save money under the project, Ulm said.

The groups plan to work together to build a 10-turbine wind farm in Stark County.

All costs and benefits from the wind farm are to be split among the districts, but with District 300 at 80 percent and the other districts at 10 percent each.

The plan is for the districts to get credit for the electricity that the wind farm adds to the grid to offset their own electric costs.

Other financial specifics were not immediately available.

Phase I of the project included a feasibility study of the financing structure, Ulm said. Test towers also were put into place to measure wind at the site, and property owners in the area were contacted to introduce the project.

Ulm said that after the intergovernmental agreements were approved, negotiations over contracts and land leases would begin, as well as the search for investors, turbine manufacturers and buyers for bonds. Phase II is expected to wrap up in early December.

Turbines likely will be delivered in spring 2011, with installation completed in late 2011 or early 2012, depending on weather.

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