Simon says wind energy is a ‘beautiful thing’

June 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

“At a time when there are state cuts, we have inflation, and we have new legislation that is putting more burdens on the schools, that money is going to come in very handy,” Sweger said.

Thirty-eight of Big Sky’s turbines are in the Amboy district, and Superintendent Jeff Thake said that will mean an additional $500,000 in new revenue.

But Thake said he is interested in more than just the money.

“The revenue for the school district is huge for us,” he said. “But the other thing it is doing is for our young people is creating jobs.”

Thake said a number of recent graduates are already working in the wind industry.

“What we want to do, ideally, is for those individuals to settle down in the communities they wish to stay in and actually send their kids to our schools,” he said.

Thake said one of the biggest problems facing small town America is declining enrollment and an increase in the percentage of low-income families; wind farms will help offset that.

“We need to find more creative avenues to generate revenue for the school districts, and this is definitely one of them,” he said.

There are only two Big Sky turbines in the Bureau Valley School District, but Superintendent John Bute is looking toward the Walnut Ridge and Green River wind farms planned for his district.

“They will make a massive difference provided that they both go through,” Bute said.

Bute said his district is currently facing a more than $1.1 million deficit.

“We need additional revenue,” he said. “We can’t continue to rely on the state to meet our needs.”

Also present at Wednesday’s meeting were Kevin Borgia, with the pro-wind organization Wind on the Wires, and Matt Boss of Mainstream Renewable Power. Boss said Mainstream was the original developer of Shady Oaks, and he was the project manager. Boss said Shady Oaks was able to move forward thanks to state and local support, and more state support is needed.

Specifically, Boss said he would like to see a few changes made to the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Under the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard established by lawmakers in 2007, Com Ed and Ameren Illinois must purchase at least 25 percent of Illinois energy from renewable sources by 2025. Three quarters of the renewable energy is to come from wind power.

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