If all goes well, when the new Mt. View School opens in the fall of 2009 much of its electricity need could be met with power produced by a wind turbine.
Lots of things would have to fall into place for that to happen, but it appears the district may well be in the right place at the right time.
Monday night, Steve Cole of Coastal Enterprises Inc. attended the district’s building committee meeting to discuss the $60,000 grant CEI was recently awarded from the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust to work with SAD 3 to study the practicality and feasibility of a wind turbine at the new school.
Cole said the trust is interested in renewable energy projects and no one had applied to construct just one turbine as a community project.
Cole, who formerly lived in Belfast but now lives in Damariscotta, said such a project probably wouldn’t have entered his head if he hadn’t recently completed work on a feasibility study for small-scale wind projects.
Last weekend, SAD 3 School Board chairman Don Newell of Unity was at the Common Ground Fair and ran into Mick Womersley, a professor at Unity College. In an e-mail to board members, Newell said Womersley indicated he and some of his students would set up a test tower and monitoring equipment at no cost. He said it would be a good science project.
Cole said that it is work that will need to be done.
Normally the period for doing wind speed testing for a wind turbine project is one year but since former school board member Wes Kinney has a windmill located only a mile or so from the school and keeps detailed records, that test period should be able to be reduced significantly. “We are lucky to have a good source of data and information,” Cole said of Kinney.
In fact, Cole said he believes in the next month or two, the professional he hires to conduct step one of the feasibility study will be able to give him a sense “if the prospects are as good as I think they are.”
Among the professionals Cole expects to hire with the grant money are an energy consultant in Boston who he worked with before on the feasibility study of small-scale wind projects; a financial consultant, who will look at the total project cost and what the payback would be; and an environmental consultant, who will work on required permits if the project gets that far.
Cole said he plans to update the building committee monthly. He said if the district can get the test tower up this fall that would be good.
“If it looks like a feasible project, do we need to be looking into how to finance it and applying for grants?” asked board member Kathy Eickenberg.
“I see as part of the project if it is feasible, how to fund it–I see that as part of my work,” said Cole.
“Would the Cox Foundation be interested in that part of it?” asked Glenn Couturier, board member and committee chairman.
“They said they might be. Probably in concert with others,” said Cole. He added that one reason the Cox Trust was interested in the project was they thought it might be feasible to raise money for it through grants. “If they believe in it, they might help find money,” he added.
He said one financial consultant told him the federal government has also created incentives for renewable energy projects.
By Toni Mailloux
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