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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, Aug. 4, 2008          
CONTACT:  Leah Mohr, Communications Manager, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 

Schools selected for wind energy educational program

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission announced eight schools have been selected to participate in the inaugural launch of the Wind for Schools program in South Dakota, an educational project that includes the installation of a small wind turbine. Selected school districts include Douglas, Sanborn Central, Faith, Selby, Aberdeen, Elkton, Stanley County and Memorial Middle School in Sioux Falls.

One school in each selected district will receive a 1.8 kilowatt turbine and specific curricula. Each project will be supported by a partnering electric utility.

"One of the main goals of the Wind for Schools program is to provide tools that will enable wind energy education at all levels," stated PUC Chairman Gary Hanson. "This is a tremendous opportunity for our state's teachers and students to build a fundamental knowledge of wind energy and form an interest in professional careers such as electrical and mechanical engineering and renewable energy," he said.

Thirty-two schools applied for the program. The PUC expects the Wind for Schools program to expand over the next several years enabling more schools to participate.

"I think the Wind for Schools program has real potential to be a success story for South Dakota," said PUC Vice Chairman Steve Kolbeck. "The schools' administration and teachers are excited about the project and local utility providers have pledged their support and enthusiasm as well. I envision the entire community rallying around this project," he said

The PUC coordinated the application process for the Wind for Schools program and arranged for financial and other support from utility partners. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory provided a resource and site assessment for each applicant. The Wind Application Center at South Dakota State University will conduct further analysis of each selected site, oversee the installation of the turbine and equipment, and provide other technical assistance.

"These small wind projects will be operated at the schools, but really, each community and the state will benefit," said PUC Commissioner Dusty Johnson. "The school receives this great hands-on teaching instrument; the community gets a grass-roots understanding of wind energy; and the state will have high school and college graduates who are equipped to be players – even leaders – in the growing wind industry," he predicted.

Wind for Schools is a national outreach program initiated by Wind Powering America, a component of the U.S. Department of Energy, and NREL in 2005.