The regional high school could save as much as $2.8 million on utility bills over the next 25 years, following a unanimous vote to enter into an agreement with a wind power project on Cape Cod.
Under the agreement, the high school will purchase net energy credits produced by Future Generation Wind of Buzzards Bay, saving at least 20 per cent on their NStar bill.
“It’s a lot of money the school district could use for other reasons,” said energy consultant Todd Bard, of LEE Energy Group, in his pitch at the last high school committee meeting.
The contract, which the district has yet to sign, has a lifespan of 20 years, with an additional five-year renewal option.
“We will pay anywhere between 20 and 30 per cent less because of these net energy credits,” explained Amy Tierney, school business administrator, following the meeting.
The power will be produced by four turbines built on a 380-acre cranberry farm near the Bourne Bridge.
The owners, Keith and Monika Mann, are fourth generation cranberry farmers who are looking to improve their economic situation with a wind development project.
Wind turbines proved to be the easiest way for Mr. Mann to continue growing cranberries, Mr. Bard said.
He also said the Manns will be featured in new Ocean Spray cranberry commercials.
The project, which is fully permitted but will not be complete for about a year, has gained approval from the neighbors, Mr. Bard said.
And the turbines’ closest abutters did not need to be consulted.
“The cranberries don’t complain,” Mr. Weiss joked.
The committee has yet to sign a contract with the developer. The project will not go out to bid, but will instead pass through a sole source procurement process, because there aren’t any other projects like it, Ms. Tierney said.
Daniel Cabot, school committee member, asked what would happen to their agreement if the commonwealth changed its position on renewable energy credits.
“It is highly unlikely; the pushback would be tremendous,” Mr. Bard said.
Old Rochester Regional School, Upper Cape Regional Technical School, and Old Colony Regional High School have also signed on.
In other business, the committee voted to recertify next year’s budget, confirming a reduction of about $104,000 to the bottom line. The adjustment is the result of new information provided by the Cape Cod Municipal Health Group, which estimates an increase to health insurance of 1.8 per cent. Ms. Tierney had originally estimated an eight per cent increase.
The budget now represents an increase of 5.24 per cent over last year’s assessed amount, Ms. Tierney said.
The amount assessed to the towns will be $15.2 million.
Also at the meeting, principal Stephen Nixon announced the top grand prize winners of the annual science fair that took place two weeks ago.
The Dr. James Porter Award for first place was awarded to Patrick Best and Pearl Vercruysse for their project, Do Mirrors Have An Effect On the Electrogenic Output of Different Species of Cyanobacteria? The Porter Award for second place was given to Samantha Potter, who studied the pH Levels in Crystal Lake on East Chop. The Porter Award for third place was awarded to Alistair Rizza, who developed a smart phone application called Pocket Life Saver.
Some 70 students participated in the fair this year, said science department chairman Elliott Bennett. Freshmen and sophomores submitted experiments using experimental design, and the upperclassmen worked on engineering-based projects. Students must demonstrate a thorough procedure for their experiment, and must conduct the work outside of class time.
The projects were judged by Islanders and off-Islanders knowledgeable about science, medicine and engineering.
A full list of the honorees, including those awarded in the special topic categories, is available on the regional high school website, mvrhs.org.