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Last updateTue, 23 Jul 2024 1pm

Area school divisions show support for wind generation

    The answer for schools realizing reasonable electrical bills may be blowing in the wind.
    The Alberta Schools Commodity Purchasing Consortium is looking to participate in a wind power project that could supply its power needs for the next 25 years at a fixed price.
    The Alberta Schools Commodity Purchasing Consortium was created in 2006 with 41 school divisions on board to help reduce the risk associated with the fluctuation of energy prices. They are exploring participating in a wind generation project to continue its goals.
    “Since we have been together… we believe we have produced cost savings of $20-$25 million. Basically what it is all about is to keep as many dollars as possible in the classroom. The less we pay for energy, the more dollars available for classroom instruction.”
    At the December 14 meeting of the Prairie Land Regional Division, the board signed a letter of intent with Consortium for a long-term commitment for the purchase of electricity. Gagnon said Christ the Redeemer School Division and Golden Hills School Division have also shown interest in the project.
    The Consortium selected BluEarth Renewables to be the lead developer of a wind power project. The proposed project would be built in East Central Alberta and plans are that it has a capacity of 70 megawatts.
    The project has an expected capital cost of about $160 million.
    He explains that in Alberta growth has spurred the demand for more electrical generation, while at the same time much of the generation capabilities are at the end of their lifespan and will have to be replaced.
     “Obviously that is going to be expensive to replace because we are using generation that has been in place for many years. That cost is going to be passed to the consumer. The projections for electricity prices is to go up in the foreseeable future,” said Gagnon. “What we are looking at is to work with the developer to build a fit-for-purpose wind project, basically a wind power project that would be built to meet the needs of the school districts.”
    He says there have been a number of factors that have gone into the project. Wind generation technology has changed in the last few years and costs have dropped. Wind generation is also consistent with school consumption. For example, schools use more energy in the daytime and in the winter, the same times that wind generators operate at their peak.
    He adds that in having the long-term commitments from school boards, it lowers the risk for the project, making it more reasonable for the developer to achieve favourable financing.
    “By signing a power agreement, you allow the developer to develop the project because he knows he has a consumer for the next 25 years,” said Gagnon. “It allows the developer to get the financing available…and all that saving is passed on to the school districts.”
    He said this kind of project could amount to a great savings for schools.
    “This project is sustainable from a cost point of view, and actually we believe it will give us lower costs as far as power is concerned for the next 25 years,” said Gagnon. “We are also protecting ourselves from the future rise of electrical prices.”
    He adds, the school divisions have the option of investing up to a 25 per cent stake in the project, thereby possibly getting a return on its investment.
    The project has the potential to have curriculum benefits.
    “From the school point of view it is showing sustainability on the environmental front and showing our students they can do something about the environment like the school divisions. We are leading by example and also reducing the carbon footprint for school districts,” said Gagnon. 


Bonspiel provides more to love

    When there is a bonspiel in Rumsey, often the action on the ice can go on late into the night.
    On Thursday night, the action may go on even longer.
    You see, Thursday night is Oyster Night. The Rumsey Ag Society has a longstanding tradition of serving the libido-enhancing tidbit for dinner, and participants at the bonspiel gobble them up.
    “We go through about 40 quarts,” said Rhonda Lund who, for the last few years, has been serving them up at the lunch counter along with Lori Cawiezel.
    With about 15-16 oysters per quart, that’s a good dose of the tiny but mighty aphrodisiac.
    “People come from everywhere… a lot of them come just specifically for oysters,” said Lund. “Everybody enjoys them.”
    Although she couldn’t specify if wives or husbands enjoyed them more, she does say the mixed bonspiel is the most popular event.
    Tim Primrose doesn’t mince words.
    “The wife and I both love oysters, as far as the men and women in general, I bet the men probably look forward to them more,” he said.
    He also vouches that the oysters help with “curling,” and maybe a bit with marital harmony. In fact, two of his children were born in the fall, roughly nine months after bonspiel season.
    Looking at her birthday book, Lund agrees there is a good sum of fall babies.
    Becky Kowalchuk seems to enjoy the oysters as well.
    “They are deep fried and they are so good. They are quite large, about four inches long, and you might get six to eight on your plate, it’s really good. Need any more details than that?” she asks.
    The men’s bonspiel is from January 23-28, the ladies is February 6-11 and the mixed is March 5-10. There are also other events throughout the season.
    Good thing they are running a number of bonspiels, as it seems some can’t get enough.
    According to Lund, who refused to mention names, after a bonspiel one year, the leftovers were laid out upstairs for volunteers to help themselves. A couple took advantage, and grabbed a roll of foil, wrapped the remaining oysters up and put them in their pockets for later.
    “Maybe that’s what keeps them coming back for more,” laughs Primrose.
    It’s curling season in Rumsey, get ready to get your rocks – shucks, that’s too easy.

Gleichen RCMP tackle grave mystery

    Gleichen RCMP has a novel request, and is looking for the identity of someone long since passed.
    On November 9 of last year, a Wheatland County resident reported to the Gleichen RCMP that they had found a gravestone on their property. 
    Police responded and recovered a gravestone, which was engraved with the name “Father Frank Crummy” with the dates 1869-1952 also inscribed.
    The RCMP initiated a search for the rightful owner or the proper location for the marker, but have not come up with any leads so far.
    They have turned to the public for information about the origin of the stone in hopes of having it returned to its proper location.
    If has anyone has information about the stone or Father Frank Crummy, they are asked to contact the Gleichen RCMP at 403-734-3056. Or they can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).


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