School informed on wind project

Katrice Perkins/ Daily Mining Gazette As part of a community information campaign, RES senior development manager Mason Sorenson, left speaks with the L’Anse Area Schools District Board at its meeting on Monday.

L’ANSE — Renewable Energy Systems Group senior development manager Mason Sorenson gave a presentation to the L’Anse Area School board at its meeting on Monday evening.

Sorenson, accompanied by Joe Hiss of JH Land Consultants, spoke with board members about the proposed Summit Lake Wind Project.

Sorenson gave an introduction to the project and discussed the potential benefits for the district and the Baraga County region as a whole.

He presented the board with potential earnings and an estimate of millage rates and taxes that could be generated as a result of the project.

The Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD) alone could receive as much as $334,000, of which $234,000 would go toward special education and $100,000 toward career and technical education (CTE) courses, Tollefson said, based on its earmarked millages.

“The CCISD is not just our school, but it would provide some more special education and career and technical education courses to our students,” said Tollefson.

There are also additional school sinking funds and SET (science, engineering and technology) millages that could distribute extra money to the local schools.

Tollefson said the extra sinking fund money could help replace windows, roofs, heating, ventilation and LED lighting.

“It would just allow us to get those projects done sooner. …We have a list over the next 11 years of things that need to be done,” Tollefson said.

Sorenson also discussed research data being collected for the project.

“We’re getting some wind data in, and as soon as the snow melts, we’ll be kicking off new bird and bat studies out there” at the proposed sites, he said.

RES is still in the process of working with L’Anse Township, said Sorenson, who guessed the project’s permit could be approved sometime this year, with construction in 2019 or 2020.

Sorenson said the School Board was the first stop of the week for the company. RES officials have already spoken with other boards and organizations, and plan to meet with more this week.

Sorenson said he has reached out to the Baraga County Economic Development Corp., Baraga County, L’Anse Township and Planning Commission and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

“We’re open to anyone else who wants to talk with us,” Sorenson said.