CARPENTERSVILLE – The School Wind Consortium Joint Action Renewable Energy Agency is moving ahead with a Plan B, allowing District 300 and two other area school districts another year to implement a downstate wind farm.
The three districts, which include Keeneyville District 20 and Prospect Heights District 23, plan to use revenue from selling power generated by a 13-turbine Stark County wind farm to defray their electricity costs beginning in late 2011 or early 2012.
A new financial model reviewed Tuesday better ensures the capitalization and project completion, District 300 officials said. Instead of using a cash grant, the consortium will switch to a tax equity investor, helping extend the time for project development and acquire better pricing.
But Phase II is under way and expected to be complete by year’s end.
Representatives with Heston Wind & Renewable Energy are working on negotiating with landowners and completing a power purchase agreement.
The largest risk is that ComEd can walk away from its contract, while the consortium must pony up about three years of proposed revenue – estimated to be $5 million – as a letter of credit. And because of a declining economy, there’s less of a demand for power, Heston Wind Chief Financial Officer Phil Pogge said.
“It remains our highest priority of focus,” Pogge added. “Until we can secure a power purchase agreement, there’s a limited amount of work we can do.”
According to a preliminary wind assessment report prepared by Wind Energy Consulting and Contracting, a sufficient wind resource likely exists at the proposed site.
However, 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 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.
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