The Edgar School District is getting into the wind business to generate some cash flow and to integrate the study of renewable energy sources into its schools’ curriculum.
The district will work with 20 other schools that are investing in a six-turbine wind farm operated by Johnson Controls.
The energy generated will be sold to utility companies, and the school districts will receive part of the profits. Edgar Superintendent Mark Lacke said he was unsure how much the school could profit, but said he doesn’t plan to include the revenue in the district’s budget at this time.
A two-year delay in the project ended Tuesday when Gov. Jim Doyle signed a bill allowing school districts to tap into $500 million in federal funding set aside for investing in or constructing renewable energy facilities as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Kevin Ruplinger, a chemistry and physics teacher at Edgar High School, is excited about the chance to infuse alternative energy into his teaching. His freshman science class already researches current and developing energy sources for fuel and transportation.
“There is no one single answer that will cure our dependence on fossil fuels, but there are a lot of neat ideas out there,” Ruplinger said, citing wind energy and manure digesters.
The wind farm will be equipped with Web cams and will track data that students across the state can monitor, said Charlie Schneider, a director for a cooperative teaching agency in Chippewa Falls, who wrote the successful grant proposal.
Accessing those numbers and comparing them with other forms of energy will help students on standardized tests, which emphasize data interpretation, Ruplinger said.
Edgar likely will not be the site of the wind farm, as the average wind velocity is a little slower than what is desired for profitability, Lacke said.
By Jeff Starck
15 March 2008
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