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Deadline looms for wind project

CARPENTERSVILLE – Facing a looming federal grant deadline, the School Wind Consortium Joint Action Renewable Energy Agency met Tuesday morning to discuss the feasibility of implementing a 13-turbine wind farm project by year’s end.

The agency – which officially was approved Monday night through the last of intergovernmental agreements by the District 300 school board – also consists of Keeneyville District 20 and Prospect Heights District 23. The three school districts plan to use revenue from selling power generated by the Stark County wind farm to defray their electricity costs beginning in late 2011 or early 2012.

On Tuesday, a board of directors was chosen and bylaws adopted. District 300 Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Crates will lead the agency as president, while the district’s Director of Operations Mike Prombo will serve as board treasurer.

After approving a bond counsel and financial viability study for the project, agency representatives discussed the tight time frame with some anxiety.

“It sounds daunting, but somehow, we always get it done,” Crates said.

An upcoming financial analysis and written report of findings are estimated to cost between $25,000 and $35,000, agency representatives said Tuesday. If the project eventually is deemed to be not financially viable, the consortium will split about a $150,000 loss in legal fees.

Heston Wind & Renewable Energy would be responsible for about $2 million in development costs.

According to district officials, the project will have positive cash flow from the first year and be paid off about year 15. It’s expected to return about $60 million to the consortium over its 30-year life span.

District 300 will share 80 percent of revenues and costs, and Districts 20 and 23 will split 10 percent each.

Phase II is under way and expected to be complete in early December. A federal grant deadline for ordering turbines is the end of the year, but agency representatives said investment tax credits could be used next year if that initial plan doesn’t work.

The School Wind Consortium Joint Action Renewable Energy Agency will meet every two weeks, with its next meeting at 10 a.m. Aug. 24 at the District 300 Administration Center, 300 Cleveland Ave., Carpentersville.