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Schools push green energy projects

Published (3/13/2009)
By Kris Berggren
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Some schools are interested in cost savings, energy conservation and teaching opportunities that could result if their bonding requests for alternative energy projects are approved.

The projects would also employ local workers, are “shovel-ready” and possibly eligible for federal stimulus funds.

Rep. Patti Fritz (DFL-Faribault) sponsors HF28, which would authorize $1.5 million for a wind generator to be constructed on the campus of either the state Academy for the Blind or the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault. Linda Mitchell, the academies’ superintendent, said the schools’ electrical bill last year was $200,000, and that a 1-megawatt wind turbine would pay for itself in less than 10 years. The bill has no companion.

The project is “right for the planet and right for Minnesota,” Mitchell said. “I’m excited about the educational aspect of this.”

Fritz also sponsors HF125, which would authorize $400,000 to construct a residential building for students ages 18-21 enrolled at the academy for the blind. South Central College carpentry students who complete an annual residential building project and sell it at market value would do the construction. Its companion, SF209, sponsored by Sen. Dick Day (R-Owatonna), awaits action by the Senate State Government Budget Division.

HF588, sponsored by Rep. Andrew Falk (DFL-Murdock), seeks $2.33 million to design and build a geothermal heating system for the Dawson-Boyd school district. The project could save the 525-student district $73,000 a year in energy costs. Its companion, SF572, sponsored by Sen. Gary Kubly (DFL-Granite Falls), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

The division also heard HF273, sponsored by Rep. Brita Sailer (DFL-Park Rapids), which would authorize a $5.8 million maximum effort capital loan to the Red Lake School District. Its companion, SF925, sponsored by Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook), awaits action by the Senate E-12 Education Budget and Policy Division.

The House K-12 Education Finance Division sent the bills to the House Finance Committee March 11.

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