School using renewable energy starting 2021

Kris Long, Sports Editor

Starting next calendar year, USD 383 will be sourcing 100% of their energy from renewable sources. The announcement comes after the decision in November 2018 to invest in the building of a wind farm run by WestStar — now Evergy — along with multiple other school districts and Universities in the region.

“They had to get enough people to sign up for it up front, to make sure that they had users before they actually invested in building the wind farm,” Lew Faust, Director of Business Services, said. “And we are, along with Kansas State, Washburn [University], University of Kansas [and] a number of other entities committed to be a part of the project.” 

Evergy has more than 50 organizations signed up for the project currently. The two wind farms from which the energy will be sourced — Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center in north central Kansas and Ponderosa Wind Energy Center in the Oklahoma panhandle — were recently connected to the grid. The organizations who signed up for the program should start receiving clean energy by the end of this month. 

“It’s pretty exciting,” building principal Micheal Dorst said. “It was one of those times that you realize, ‘okay, when there’s enough incentive to invest down this road, you can actually create things that are better for our environment.’”

The initiative is certainly good for the environment, and continued investment in wind energy will help limit carbon emissions and provide an incentive for companies to supply green energy. However, the energy from the wind farms will be added to the power grid to offset the usual non-renewable cost the USD 383 previously caused. In other words, the energy created by the wind farms will not be directly delivered to district buildings. Instead, wind energy will be added to the total power created by Evergy, causing less fossil fuels to be burned. 

Not only is USD 383 doing their part to fight against climate change, they are saving money in the process. The district has entered a 20-year contract with Evergy, and the wind farm scheme is projected to save them $43,800 per year out of a budget allocation for energy of $1,350,000 per year. 

“We have a fixed rate per kilowatt hour,” Faust said. “At the time, it was projected to save us about $43,800 a year and energy cost and be, of course, green energy… and that’s at today’s prices of energy. If rates go up, it would be worth more than that.”