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D300 takes wind out of power plan

ALGONQUIN – With little fanfare, the Community Unit School District 300 Board drove a spike into an intergovernmental agreement to develop wind energy to power its schools.

However, a new intergovernmental agreement approved Monday night involving District 300 and Keeneyville Elementary School District 20 and Prospect Heights School District 23 – all three a part of the earlier wind energy consortium – will allow all three to save money on its future electricity costs.

District 300 had formed the School Wind Consortium with the two other districts in August 2010 with the goal of using renewable energy to secure long-term energy savings for its member school districts while enhancing educational opportunities for their students.

But, according to chief financial officer Cheryl Crates in a February memo to the District 300 board, the districts involved determined there was no feasible way to fund the venture without large upfront investment.

However, the three districts will now purchase their energy as a consortium instead, saving District 300 $300,000 a year.

Constellation New Energy, the district’s current electricity and natural gas provider, allowed the districts to lock in a lower electricity rate for the next eight years, Crates said. The new rate allows District 300 to lock in 25 percent of its electrical usage for the life of the contract at a fixed rate of 44 cents per kilowatt hour, about 11 cents lower than its most recent contract, she said.

While the district was unable to “go green” Crates said, the other goal of saving money was realized.

“We got really close, but we are just going about it in a different way,” she said.