PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The SAD 1 board has given administrators the go-ahead to secure federal grants or other federal funding to explore whether windmills would be a good fit to power district schools while lowering long-term energy costs.
Gehrig Johnson, superintendent of SAD 1, said Friday the district will hold two public meetings next week, in Mapleton and Presque Isle, to fill residents in on what they are doing.
SAD 1 comprises Presque Isle, Castle Hill, Chapman, Mapleton and Westfield. It has five schools.
Johnson said the school board recently authorized him to spend up to $200,000 of federal funding to hire a consultant and install up to four meteorological towers at several locations in the district. The towers are equipped with instrumentation to collect wind data at various heights to ensure suitable wind speeds for wind energy projects.
The towers would stay up for a year.
“We like wind power because it is clean and very green and it is always there,” he said. “We want to determine if it could help us save on energy costs.”
Johnson said the district is lucky to have many of its facilities on high ground, making wind power a strong possibility.
Under the plan, one meteorological tower would be placed by the baseball fields near Presque Isle High School to see whether a windmill could power both the high school and nearby Zippel Elementary School.
Another tower would be placed by the ball fields at Presque Isle Middle School, one would be placed at Mapleton Elementary School, and the final tower would be placed at the school farm, which is on 38 acres on State Street in Presque Isle.
Johnson stressed that the money for the meteorological tower initiative would not come from operational funds.
The district is working with Andrew Perkins of Perkins Engineering Inc. on the project. Johnson said that Perkins — the company’s president and principal engineer — would be at the two meetings to present a PowerPoint presentation and answer questions.
The first meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at Mapleton Elementary School. The second will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, at Presque Isle High School.
“We have lots of steps to go through,” Johnson acknowledged Friday. “But it is something that we would like to explore very seriously.”