Funding sought for wind energy projects in schools - Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Funding sought for wind energy projects in schools

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The Nebraska Legislature's appropriations committee heard testimony this week on a bill intended to replace federal funding for a wind energy initiative in Nebraska.

The bill, introduced by Malcolm Senator Ken Haar, would appropriate $50,000 annually in fiscal years 2013-14 and 2014-15 to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents for the Nebraska Wind Application Center.

The center partners with K-12 schools across the state to build turbines and study wind energy, Haar said. Federal funding that has supported the project since 2007 is ending, he said, and the bill would provide a two-year bridge until private funding sources emerge.

"It's a hands-on project that gets kids excited, gets kids motivated," Haar said. "After water, wind is probably our greatest potential in the state. There will come a time when we utilize that potential, and the sooner the better."

Dan McGuire, facilitator of the Nebraska Wind for Schools Program, testified in support of the bill. The Nebraska Wind Application Center has worked with the program to develop partnerships with 25 schools, he said, providing students with an up-close understanding of wind energy.

"The program provides teachers and students with direct, hands-on experience with wind turbines," he said.

John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, also supported the bill, saying the support that the Nebraska Wind Application Center provides to schools for building turbines is an important part of the effort to train Nebraska's youth for a future in wind energy.

"This is all about creating jobs and economic opportunity for the future," Hansen said.

No opposition testimony was offered and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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