KINGSLEY – Mountain View School District Superintendent Andrew Chichura believes in safeguarding the environment, even if it initially may cost millions of dollars.
And that is why Chichura and the Mountain View board are exploring whether it would be feasible to power the district’s schools with wind.
“It developed from my own personal interest in going green,” Chichura said.
Representatives from Johnson Controls, Inc., of Milwaukee, Wisc. gave a presentation about wind power on Feb. 25 during a school board meeting.
The board did not take action.
Chichura said that the next step for the board is to determine whether it wants to have wind resources around Mountain View measured.
School board member Donald Twining said that the issue needs to be looked at closely before a decision is made to install wind turbines.
He, however, added that the board may have the Wisconsin company measure the area’s wind resources.
Twining said that the school district is heading in the right direction by looking at wind power.
According to maintenance, building and grounds supervisor Bob Taylor, a feasibility study would be done by Johnson Controls at no cost.
As Mountain View mulls over whether to move forward with the project, wind power is becoming more common, including for schools, according to American Wind Energy Association spokeswoman Christine Real deAzua.
In January, for instance, Keystone College announced that it intended to install wind turbines by 2009.
Real deAzua said that the size of a wind turbine depends on many factors, including how much energy capacity is desired.
According to the association, there are about 70 wind projects installed at private and public schools, as well as post-secondary institutions, throughout the country.
About 10 wind turbines exist at schools in Pennsylvania, according to state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Charlie Young.
He added that one turbine is located at Lakeland School District and has a 1.8 kilowatt capacity.
Although wind power is becoming more common, there are still hurdles to install such facilities, including massive up-front costs.
For instance, it may cost $2-$5 million for a wind turbine system, according to Chichura.
He added that the school district may borrow to pay for such a system.
Plus, Chichura said that the school district could receive additional savings by selling energy created by a wind turbine to a utility.
Taylor said that grants may also be available.
And while possibly saving the school district money in the long run is appealing to Chichura that is not the only reason he supports wind power.
He also hopes that a wind turbine system will raise awareness and help the school district achieve energy independence.
“Having a wind turbine system would make people aware that there are alternative energy sources,” Chichura said.
BY JOSH MROZINSKI, Wyoming County Press Examiner
5 March 2008
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