David Ulm’s Quest for Windmills – Part 2

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog outlined printed the first half of David Ulm’s quest to produce Carpentersville District 300’s electricity from windmills.

Today we look at how he proposes to pay for it.

“We’re ready to move as soon as our Met (Meteorological) Tower results come in next November.

“Under the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICEF), we received $30,000 to do this test” Ulm said.

“At the end of the 12 months, we will then apply to them for a grant to get a tower. They will only give grants based on a 12-month study.

“We are confident we would gain enough information in a 3-month period to move forward,” but Ulm told me that the rules of the ICEF require a 12-month test.

“The tower went up in Nov. It shows we could support a tower out there. For the first three months we are 87%.”

Nevertheless, Ulm takes a conservative approach.

“We are talking about a $6 million project and I’m not about to waste any taxpayers’ money.”

Ulm explained that the Foundation will provide about 10% of the project’s cost.

“The ICCF grant might amount to as much as 10%, $600,000,” he said.

Then, he pointed out what that would mean to District 300:

“The interest on a $6 million bond over ten years is not equal to $600,000.”

But the bonds would be structured so that the savings would pay them back, even if it took more than ten year.

So, maybe free money.

And, what if District 300 decides to build a wind farm somewhere?

“Since each windmill costs $5-6 million,” Ulm said, “with economies of scale, if we were to install 5 or 6 on one site, we’d probably be looking at $30 million.

“Assuming at 80% efficiency, we’d be looking at a 15 year payback.”

And how would that be financed?

“The new stimulus package is available online. There are quite a few grants available for school district construction and infrastructure improvements and there is a line in there that Dr. (Cheryl) Crates found that shows interest bond money.

“There are currently Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB). Those have been around since 2006. $200 million for 2006, $400 million part of the farm bill in 2007. They threw it in under the stimulus bill of 2008–$400 million.

“First come, first served.

“We could get it interest free because the lender would get a tax credit equal to what the interest would be. It’s a ‘zero interest’ loan.

“There’s plenty of ways to go.”

But to get the electricity to schools in Carpentersville, Dundee, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, etc., use of Commonwealth Edison’s transmission lines would be necessary and less restrictive state laws are needed. (See story yesterday.)

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David Olm, Carpentersville School District 300’s Energy Management Coordinator is seen on the upper right. Part of the Paw Paw wind farm is below, seen the day the tornado crossed I-39 shortly before we reached here. Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Crates is seen near the bottom of the article.

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