Nebraska Wind for Schools Project Surpasses Original Goal: A Wind Powering America Success Story
Posted Oct 20 2010 12:00am
With 21 installations in various development stages, Wind Powering America's Wind for Schools project in Nebraska has seen tremendous growth since its inception in 2007, thanks in large part to the efforts of Nebraska Wind for Schools facilitator Dan McGuire to find new funding sources for the projects. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Wind for Schools project brings wind turbines and wind curricula to rural schools while training junior and senior college student interdisciplinary teams in the wind application process and preparing them to enter the wind industry workforce.
McGuire is thrilled with the rapid growth of the program. He explained that in the beginning, the project's goal was to add three to five schools each year. "Given that we are in year three now and that we have 21 partner schools, I am very pleased to say that we have exceeded the target by averaging seven schools per year," McGuire said.
To become involved in the Wind for Schools project, interested schools must ensure funding for a viable project.
"Interested schools typically contact me as facilitator," McGuire said. "I make a visit to the school, present the Wind for Schools project and information to the school administration and school board, and explain that the school must commit a minimum of $1,500. I explain the potential sources of grant funding, local and community donors, and in-kind support, and I explain that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Wind Applications Center and I will assist them in applying for grants."
Currently, grant funding comes from various sources. These include the Nebraska Public Power District, which according to McGuire has committed or already provided financial support to a dozen Nebraska Wind for Schools partners.
Another source is the Nebraska U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Rural Development program, which has worked with Wind for Schools partners in applying for grants through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program and the Community Facilities grant program. Thus far, seven Nebraska schools have received or been approved for USDA grants.
A third source is the Nebraska State Environmental Protection (SEP) program, which is administered by the Nebraska Attorney General's office and uses funds collected from environmental violations to support environmentally friendly projects. So far in 2010, the office approved eight Nebraska schools for $16,000 each for Wind for Schools projects. According to McGuire, "It's a tremendous boost to our Wind for Schools program. Additional schools have their SEP applications in, and we anticipate more approvals of similar amounts this year."
Finally, the Nebraska Energy Office has also supported the Wind for Schools project by committing $50,000 over 2 years (an estimated $5,000 per school for 10 schools) from federal stimulus funds. "Wind for Schools partner schools are currently applying for those grant funds, and that process continues," McGuire said.
McGuire said that the Wind for Schools project is well received by partner schools and students.
"The Wind for Schools project is playing a key and critical role in helping stimulate interest in renewable energy at the K-12 school level where it is so important to reach young minds that can envision a better energy future," he said.
Of the 21 Nebraska projects, seven turbines are installed: Elkhorn Valley District Schools, Hayes Center Public Schools, Cedar Rapids Public Schools, Diller-Odell Public Schools, Norris Public Schools, Bloomfield Community Schools, and Loup City Public Schools. Fourteen other schools have recently joined the project or are in the process of becoming project partners in the towns of Bancroft, Crawford, Hyannis, Mullen, Creighton, Papillion, Oshkosh, Pleasanton, Hooper, Atkinson, West Point, Raymond, Superior, and Kimball.