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Rising rates may boost wind farms; Electrical deregulation would provide incentive  

Students at Abingdon High School are still researching what it would take to power public buildings in seven different locations with wind energy, and the answer seems to be time and money.

“It still looks pretty good,” said Phil Willis, who teaches the science technology class that began researching how to provide energy from wind towers to buildings in the Abingdon, Knoxville, Galesburg, ROWVA, and Farmington school districts, Carl Sandburg College and city buildings in Abingdon.

“There are still some hurdles in front of us,” Willis said of the project that would cost about $10 million and create seven wind towers.

Willis and representatives from those seven organizations met Tuesday to hear the results of a feasibility study on the project done by Jay Haley, president of North Dakota-based EAPC Architects and Engineers.

“Cash flow is still a big unknown,” Willis said of the project that began in 2004.

And moving forward depends on what power companies do this January when deregulation is expected to significantly increase utility bills.

“One of the biggest things we’ve got to wait for is deregulation,” Willis said.

“The higher the rates go, the more feasible a project like this is,” he said, because some of the energy generated will be sold back to the companies.

The study says the project is financially viable, but the class needs to know what utility rates will be after deregulation for an accurate idea of what needs to be done.

“We know what the numbers look like today,” but they will be sure to change, he said.

“We’re still going ahead with the project, but that is a big piece of it.”

The student-run project was awarded a $70,000 grant last year, and students have traveled to Springfield and Chicago in search of support.

The grant was given to the school by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation in Chicago in October 2005 and has been used to pay for the feasibility study.

Junior and senior students traveled to Springfield last February to participate in the 15th annual TECH 2006 Students for the Information Age event. The students showed the public and legislators how technology is being used in the classroom.

By Kevin Sampier of the Journal Star
Kevin Sampier can be reached at 686-3041 or state@pjstar.com.

pjstar.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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