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Wind energy developers Babcock & Brown and Iberdrola Renewables have each pledged $10,000 to help support the South Dakota Wind for Schools program, according to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The funds will be used to defray some construction expenses associated with installing small wind turbines at schools participating in the program. Babcock & Brown is the developer of the Wessington Springs wind farm; Iberdrola Renewables is the developer of the MinnDakota Wind Farm and the Buffalo Ridge I wind farm, both in Brookings County.

In August, the PUC announced the selection of eight school districts to participate in the Wind for Schools program: Sanborn Central, Douglas in Box Elder, Faith, Selby, Aberdeen, Elkton, Stanley County and Memorial Middle School in Sioux Falls.

The first turbine, installed on the campus of Sanborn Central in Forestburg, was dedicated Oct. 29. The others are expected to be erected in the coming months. The 1.8 kW turbines and accompanying science curriculum are intended to provide hands-on alternative energy education to students.

"The folks at Babcock & Brown and Iberdrola Renewables were more than willing to give their support to what they agree is a great project for South Dakota and the wind industry in general," says PUC Commissioner Dusty Johnson. "We may well see students from these schools working at South Dakota wind farms one day."

The PUC has served as the Wind for Schools state facilitator for about 18 months. Now that the Wind for Schools program has been successfully launched in the state, the role of state facilitator is being transitioned to Steve Wegman, who will work with the schools and local communities at the direction of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

SOURCE: South Dakota Public Utilities Commission

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