By Peggy Revell
Southern Alberta Newspapers
As of January, Prairie Rose School Division – or at least some of it – will be powered by wind.
As part of an energy buying consortium with 26 Albertan school divisions, PRSD trustees signed on to purchase energy from the Bull Creek Wind Project – a 29 Megawatt wind farm 18 kilometres north of Provost, Alta., which is currently under construction and expected to be completed and up and running by January 2016.
The deal, the division hopes, will ultimately bring about cost savings.
“People forget how expensive it is in a school division just to keep the lights on,” said PRSD superintendent Brian Andjelic, and the business-side of running the division can sometimes be lost with the focus being on education.
“There is no education without the lights on, without power for the computers.”
Talks over buying into the project began several years ago – at the time BluEarth Renewables was looking for investors for the Bull Creek project. School divisions were prevented from investing due to the Education Act, so the company came up with an alternative way so the consortium could participate, explained PRSD secretary treasurer Ryan Boser.
PRSD will sign a 25-year contract to buy electricity at a fixed rate from BluEarth, with a one-time prepayment up to a maximum amount of $115,893.
Alongside rates that will be below market prices, the divisions will also receive an annual cash rebate of 10 per cent.
The expected return is $350,000 said Boser – so there will be a net savings of $235,000 in the end.
The only schools that won’t be powered by the Bull Creek project will be those in Redcliff, where energy is purchased from the City of Medicine Hat.
“I think in this time of our financial situation – the deficit – it seems there’s money going out,” said trustee Graeme Dennis. “(But) in the long run, this is a cost savings.
Board chair Stuart Angle noted energy prices are going “up, up, up.”
“It adds some predictability.”
Trustees also approved putting up three teacherages in Acadia Valley, Oyen and Foremost up for sale. These teacherages are currently not being rented out by any teachers, although some have tenants.