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SOUTH STREATOR - A possible solution to high energy costs for the Woodland School district may be blowing in the wind, said Superintendent Doug Foster.

Foster and the school board want to study the feasibility of putting up a wind turbine to supply electrical needs. The idea was brought to the board by physics teacher Elizabeth Chapman, who has been thinking about for a year.

Chapman lives near Bureau Valley High School in Manlius, west of Woodland, where that district erected a successful wind tower two years ago.

Foster does not know how much the tower would cost, or even if it would work efficiently in its location south of Streator. The board is checking into $20,000 in funding from state grants or other sources to answer the question.

"We're looking at getting the grant and then having an engineer conduct the study," Foster said.

The tower would probably be similar to Bureau Valley's device, Foster said. That tower is 217 feet tall and cost a little more than $1 million, said Superintendent Rick Stoecker. It is built to last 20 years, though Stoecker hopes it is still around after 30 years.

The tower cut electrical costs in half in its first year in operation, Foster said.

Stoecker said this year's savings will probably be $100,000 and he expects the same or more in years ahead as energy costs continue to climb.

"Anything that will save us money is worth looking at," said Foster.

Yearly energy costs and how much could not be saved in Woodland were not immediately available.

Neighbor opposition, a factor that counties consider when approving a large number of wind turbines in a wind farm, so far has not surfaced for Woodland neighbors for the single tower being proposed, Foster said.

In Bureau Valley, it's "not killing birds" and "not making anyone have an epileptic seizure," Stoecker said, referring to common complaints.

Bureau County already has a multi-tower wind farm, as does DeKalb County northwest of Woodland. LaSalle and Livingston counties are considering proposals for wind farms.

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