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School division commits to wind power project

Livingstone Range School Board decided June 26 to enter into a long-term electricity contract once the current one it is in expires.
The decision came after the board received further information on the proposed agreement.
The matter was first raised at the board’s June 12 meeting by associate superintendent for business services Jeff Perry.
Perry explained in 2006 the division joined with the West Wind and Horizon School Divisions to invest in a wind power project to reduce their exposure to volatile electricity prices.
All three boards and Alberta Education invested in a long-term wind project that provides the divisions with a fixed rate on energy over a 20-year period.
This project has inspired school divisions to create the Alberta Schools Commodity Purchasing Consortia to create another wind power project opportunity.
The Bull Creek Wind Power Project has been identified 20 kilometres northeast of Provost and 60 kilometres southeast of Wainwright in east-central Alberta.
The proposed capacity is 115 megawatts consisting of up to 46 wind turbines, associated access roads, power lines and a transformer station, and an operations facility.
At peak, the wind farm can generate enough electricity to power 30,000 to 35,000 homes.
All that is being sought is a commitment to purchase electricity, starting when the board’s current wind power agreement ends in 2027.
The board wanted clarification on items such as whether it would be penalized if it agreed to join, then opted out; and what response has been like from school divisions.
The board was advised there likely would be a penalty and so far seven school boards have joined but most were discussing the proposal in the last two weeks of June or late August.
Trustee Martha Ratcliffe was still conflicted on the issue, noting if something better came along, the board would be penalized for pulling out.
Perry said the advantage is price certainty which allows the division to plan better long term.
Perry added there is strength in numbers. If the proposal turns out not to be a good one, there will be 40 boards who together can go to Alberta Education for assistance.
If Livingstone Range does not sign on, when much of the province does, and the division has to go to Alberta Education, the government may not be receptive.
Alberta Education may ask why the division did not enter the agreement when it had the chance.
Perry said the school division is benefitting from the current wind power deal it is in.
Trustee Kelly Hall pointed out the division’s sister boards will have 20 years to work out the kinks in the system, and if there is a problem Livingstone Range will stand with its sister boards.
In the end the board unanimously agreed to enter into the wind power project in 2027.

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