Bureau Valley High School was looking for the best way to cut costs and lucky for them, the school was in Keith Bolin’s hometown. A hog farmer in Manlius, IL, Bolin was passionate about education and high-quality school districts.
Keith has farmed in Bureau County since 1978 and knows the land inside and out. He knows how windy the area is and he knew that there should be a discussion about wind energy. With the success of Iowa’s turbines powering schools, Keith knew that Bureau Valley High School would be a perfect match for wind power.
But how would Keith make it happen? How would the school get enough money for the turbine? How would the public feel? With expressions of concern from the public about noise, construction, and danger to birds, Keith had a long road ahead of him.
Keith spent two and a half years working to get a 660 kW Vestas wind turbine constructed at Bureau Valley High School. In 2002, he received a $20,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, a crucial first step. This money went towards hiring consultant Jay Haley of EAPC Architects and Engineers to perform their wind resource assessment. Without this positive assessment, the school would never have been able to invest that much money just to see if the project was feasible.
After this, Bolin received an additional $480,000 from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and the Illinois Department of Commerce.
The public's fears were soon put to rest with the turbine's architect, lawyers, and supporters presenting the incredible benefits of the development. With the approval for the project, the school was finally ready for preparation. The 660 kW Vestas wind turbine was quickly installed in two months and began in early 2005.
The school planned to principally use the turbine to offset their electricity generation. Any excess generation would be sold to the local utility at their avoided cost of three cents. Bureau Valley High School was the first school in the state to install a turbine.
The turbine's computerized records showed that it created 646,397 kilowatt-hours of energy for the school and used only 2,715 for itself in the first seven months. This saves the school district approximately $100,000 each year. Altogether, Bolin estimated the project to have a total revenue of $1.6 million.
Saving two teacher’s salaries a year, the district considers the turbine to be a great way to earn some money, teach students about renewable energy, and help the environment.
Contact us to see how a turbine could fit into your school, and see these benefits for yourself.