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Iroquois hears wind turbine pitch

Could wind turbines someday provide electrical energy to the main campus of the Iroquois Central School District? Kevin Schulte, founder of Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc., summarized the preliminary analysis of a wind power project for the Iroquois Central School District Board of Education at its June 8 meeting.

Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc., based in Ontario, N.Y., has “installed 44 projects as a wind energy developer, and has 33 operating turbines in New York,” Schulte told the board. His company provides project management, installation and maintenance for the turbine, and would assist in securing grant funding and financing.

“Electricity prices are back on the rise,” Schulte reported. “The cost of electricity is rising significantly faster than inflation, and electricity in New York is more expensive and rising faster than other areas in the country.” A recently enacted New York State law provides an opportunity for the district to erect a wind turbine on land it owns on Girdle Road across from the main campus. Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc. “works with municipalities, businesses, schools, farms and homeowners to develop wind power projects,” Schulte said. He projected that the district could see energy savings during the first year of operation of “approximately $100,000, and up to $1.3 million over the 20-year life of the machine.”

A 450-kilowatt-hour turbine would cost about $1.6 million to install, and come with a two-year warranty. “The amount of [energy] production is aggressive,” from a turbine of this size, “but maintenance would be less. The installation of wind turbines are fundable as a capital project,” Schulte said, adding that the district could be eligible for a $400,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to offset the cost.

“It’s just something we’re looking at,” said incoming Superintendent Douglas Scofield, who requested that the board consider pursuing the feasibility study to apply for the NYSERDA grant at a future meeting.

“I would like to hear public input on this,” said School Board Vice President Susan Brunner.

In other business, the board unanimously adopted the $363,500 bond resolution for the purchase of three 62-passenger school buses, one eight-passenger Suburban, and one five-passenger car. The resolution had been approved by voters on May 17.

The board also accepted numerous donations from Lifetouch National School Studios as well as $400 from Five Star Bank, which enabled high school seniors to attend the Regional Traffic Safety Program at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base.