August 21, 2015 by lmorgan · Comments Off
The moving of funds from one account to another was at the forefront of Thursday night’s meeting of the District #18 Board of Education.
In a meeting which lasted less than an hour, the board paid forward on utility bills; and transferred funds to a number of different accounts.
As has been customary in past years, the board approved paying forward electric and gas bills. This time around, board members unanimously approved paying $45,000 towards electric bills and another $25,000 on gas bills for the 2015/16 school year.
Transfers made during the meeting were:
• $40,000 to the school lunch fund
* $65,000 to the school activities fund
• $130,000 to the employee benefit fund
• $100,000 to the depreciation fund
Superintendent Dan Polk said money placed in the employee benefit fund could be used as part of a retirement package in future years. Last year the board offered an early retirement package to qualifying teachers, but there were no takers. It’s not clear whether or not the early retirement package will be offered this year.
On another financial matter, the board approved moving $2,500 from the EPS activities fund to a Wolfpack activities fund for the start of the school year.
Earlier in the meeting, both Polk and Principal Greg Wemhoff gave reports to the board.
Polk said work continues on preparation of the 2015/16 school budget. A major step forward in preparation of the budget will take place on Thursday when valuation figures are released by county assessors in Boone, Antelope and Wheeler Counties.
While those numbers are yet to be disclosed, Polk did say district patrons should see a substantial decrease in the tax levy due, in part, to an increase of $49,000 in state aid to education; and more than $500,000 received by the district in the form of a nameplate capacity tax from electricity generated by Prairie Breeze Wind Energy.
“We won’t need as much revenue from the property tax side,” Polk said. It’s possible, he added, that the school district might have a lower tax asking which may rank among the 10 lowest in the state.
In other remarks, Polk said the school now has a Twitter account (@ElginPublic) to provide info about school activities on a regular basis. “I think it’s a real positive thing,” he said about Twitter.
Wemhoff updated board members on extra duty assignments. He said all are the same with the exception being Michael Becker who will serve as assistant boys basketball coach. As of yet, no one has been hired to serve in the position of golf coach, replacing Jacob Sladky who held the position for a number of years.
Approximately 20 male students are out for football this year, Wemhoff said, and the number of volleyball players could be as high as 30.
A Wolfpack varsity football scrimmage will be held Saturday morning, Aug. 22, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Admission to the scrimmage will be a sports drink (Gatorade, etc.). A similar scrimmage for the volleyball team will be Monday evening, Aug. 31.
In other action:
Awards — Board members’ Steve Busteed, Robert Hoefer and Doug Jones are to receive awards from the Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB) next month.
Signatures — Polk said all the documents involved in negotiations with the Elgin Education Association have been signed.
Software — The board approved an expenditure of approximately $2,850 for software and materials for students to use as part of a high school STEM class.
First reading — At the suggestion of the Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB), school board members approved on first reading updates on a number of school policies dealing with such matters as digital records for meeting updates, equal opportunity employment, facilities, certificated & support employees recruitment and selection and bidding procedures.
The recommendations were made to be in response to changes in state laws made by the Nebraska Unicameral which would go into effect.
The policies would need to be read two more times before becoming part of the school’s policies.
Dates set — The next regular meeting of the school board will be Wednesday, Sept. 9, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Prior to the start of the regular meeting, public hearings will be held on the proposed 2015/16 school budget (7 p.m.) and proposed budget levy (7:15 p.m.).
August 19, 2015 by lmorgan · Comments Off
Work is in the beginning stages on Invenergy’s fourth Antelope County-based wind energy farm. Invenergy announced Wednesday afternoon that the new farm is in the planning stages for the Neligh area.
According to an official press release from Invenergy received by The Elgin Review, they will be expanding and continuing their relationship with the residents and officials in Antelope County.
“With an excellent wind resource and support for clean, homegrown energy, Nebraska is an outstanding location for wind power generation. We’re proud that our Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center, in Antelope and Boone Counties, contributes more than $3 million annually to the local economy through tax revenue, landowner payments, and staff salaries.
Construction is now underway on the project’s second and third phases: The 73 MW Prairie Breeze II Wind Energy Center, also in Antelope and Boone Counties, is scheduled to begin commercial operation in the fourth quarter of this year. The Prairie Breeze III Wind Energy Center in Antelope County will generate approximately 36 MW of power once operational in 2016. The project expansion phases also will bring significant economic benefit to the local economy through job creation, and through tax revenue that will continue throughout the life of the projects.
We’re pleased, then, to be in the early development stage for a future area wind farm, the Upstream Wind Energy Project, in the Neligh area. It is proposed as a 200+ MW facility featuring approximately 100 turbines, to be located in Antelope and Pierce Counties north of Highway 275. No state or local permits have been submitted for the project, as it is in the early development phase. Currently, we’re meeting with interested and participating landowners as we determine turbine layout and siting.
We look forward to providing the community with further project updates in the future, and to investing in the area’s economic future and creating a new, homegrown source of clean energy in Nebraska.”
Invenergy’s first wind farm located in Antelope County was completed in May of 2014 with power being purchased by Omaha Public Power District.
August 14, 2015 by lmorgan · Comments Off
After an investigation, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has levied a fine and issued a violation to a wind turbine construction company in connection with an accident last May which claimed the life of a crane operator.
On Wednesday, OSHA proposed a fine of $7,000 for Wanzek Construction, general contractor for construction of Invenergy’s 73.5 MW Prairie Breeze II wind energy farm near Elgin.
Back in May, 40-year-old crane operator Thomas L. Bales was operating a 90-ton rough-terrain crane down a county road southeast of Elgin when the crane slipped into a ditch and overturned, pinning him. Rescue personnel from Elgin and Petersburg rushed to the scene to lend aid but there was little they could do. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bales was employed by Tradesman International and was working for Wanzek Construction at the time of the accident.
The construction company, based out of West Fargo, was given one serious safety violation for exposing workers to struck-by hazards. The worker was not wearing a safety restraint as a crane slipped into a ditch and overturned. He was crushed as it rolled off an embankment, according to OSHA Omaha acting area director Darwin Craig.
“At the beginning of each shift, construction vehicles in use must be inspected to ensure that they are in safe operating condition. This includes ensuring that vehicle restraint systems are in place and utilized by employees to ensure their safety when operating the vehicles,” said Craig. “Crushing and struck-by hazards are still one of the leading causes of construction-related incidents resulting in fatalities in the industry.”
According to reports, Arnold Jelinek, vice president at Wanzek Construction, a North Dakota company, said the company is reviewing the citation.
“The victim had only worked for Wanzek Construction for 10 days,” Craig said months ago. “These incidents are preventable regardless of how long an employee works for a company. Even though temporary workers may only work on a jobsite a few days, weeks or months, employers still have a responsibility to train all employees permanent and temporary about the hazards to which they are exposed,” Craig said in May.
This isn’t the first time Wanzek has been cited by OSHA. Wanzek, according to OSHA, has previously been cited in response to a workplace fatality in January 2011 when an employee was pinned between a semi-trailer and a pickup truck. The employer received one serious citation for not adequately training employees to identify large vehicles on the construction site which presented a struck-by hazard. The case was resolved and the employer paid a penalty of $6,300.
July 31, 2015 by lmorgan · Comments Off
That’s the words Invenergy is using to describe work being done on two wind farms in Antelope County. With Prairie Breeze I producing energy for more than a year now, attention is now focused on development of Prairie Breeze II and III.
“We’re pleased to report that construction is progressing well,” said Alissa Krinsky, Director of Communications at Invenergy, developer of the wind farms. She updated The Elgin Review on recent developments. They were:
Prairie Breeze II
• Foundations are complete.
• All turbines are on site or at a temporary lay down yard in Norfolk, with turbine delivery expected to wrap up soon.
• Turbine erection activities are underway with two turbines fully erected at the southern end of the site.
• The underground collection line installation from the substation to the nearest turbines should be completed soon, followed by trenching from turbine to turbine, and the installation of transformers.
When completed, is expected to produce 73 MW of energy.
Prairie Breeze III
A construction schedule for Prairie Breeze III is currently being finalized.
• Turbine foundation work is expected to begin first.
• Turbine deliveries are scheduled to begin later this summer.
According to Krinsky, “In the meantime, substation expansion work continues with foundation and grading work in progress.”
Prairie Breeze III, when completed, will generate approximately 36MW which is being purchased by the City of Grand Island.
Invenergy contractors just finished patching and paving seven miles of County Road 836 near Elgin as part of the original Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center post-operation project/road work. They worked with Antelope County officials to upgrade the road to an improved condition from how it was prior to project construction. Work was done by Lincoln-based Constructors, Inc., Nebraska’s oldest paving company.
July 7, 2015 by lmorgan · Comments Off
Majority ownership in Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Farms I, II and III has been sold.
TerraForm Power, Inc., an owner and operator of clean energy power plants, and SunEdison, Inc., the world’s largest renewable energy development company, announced Monday that TerraForm Power has signed a definitive agreement to acquire net ownership of 930 megawatt (MW) of wind power plants from Invenergy Wind LLC (”Invenergy”), the largest independent wind owner in the United States.
This acquisition is expected to add a sizeable, high-quality contracted power plant portfolio to the TerraForm Power and SunEdison family of companies, strengthening one of the largest and highest growth renewable power platforms in North America.
Invenergy officials issued a statement late Tuesday morning regarding the sale.
“Invenergy is pleased to have developed the Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center (“Prairie Breeze”) projects, and to retain an ownership stake in all three project phases and to continue on as planned as the facilities’ operator. Our operations and maintenance staff – which soon will total 20 team members in all - will remain employed at the project and based at our on-site operations building in Elgin.
“It’s important to note that:
• Invenergy will continue to be responsible for managing the completion of construction for the two newest phases of the complex, the Prairie Breeze II Wind Energy Center and the Prairie Breeze III Wind Energy Center.
• All landowner agreements for all three project phases are unaffected.
“The Prairie Breeze projects have in recent months attracted significant market interest due to their quality and value, and because each phase has a long-term power sale contract. The timing of this interest presented us with an opportunity to position Invenergy for greater long-term growth.
“This transaction validates the quality of Invenergy’s operating capabilities, and we very much remain an owner and operator of clean energy assets. Our operating facilities total approximately 6.6 gigawatts (GW), with another 2.5 GW under construction or contract. Therefore, this transaction in fact involves a small portion – approximately one-tenth – of Invenergy’s total portfolio.
“The capital infusion from this transaction will be reinvested into Invenergy’s development pipeline, which includes continued activity in Nebraska. We appreciate the community support in Antelope and Boone Counties for our Prairie Breeze projects, and we’re pleased that they’ll continue to infuse millions of dollars each year to the local community through tax revenue, landowner payments, and staff salaries.
“Invenergy remains committed to operating the Prairie Breeze projects efficiently and to developing additional renewable energy projects in Nebraska.”
Omaha Public Power District, Lincoln Electric Systems and the City of Grand Island have signed long-term power purchase contracts for Prairie Breeze I, II and III, respectively. Grand Island officials are in the process of selling a portion of the power from PB III to the cities of Neligh and Nebraska City.
“TerraForm Power continues to transform the energy landscape with our acquisition of Invenergy’s wind power portfolio,” said Carlos Domenech, TerraForm Power’s chief executive officer. “This transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to our shareholders, extend the visibility of our growth trajectory and unlock significant value as we aggregate a highly fragmented industry. Our ongoing partnership with Invenergy, the country’s leading independent wind owner and developer, provides further opportunities for collaboration, asset drop downs and dividend growth.”
“TerraForm Power’s acquisition of the Invenergy wind plants leverages the power of SunEdison’s platform which was enhanced with our acquisition of First Wind in January of 2015,” said Ahmad Chatila, SunEdison chief executive officer and TerraForm Power chairman. ”The Invenergy transaction creates significant value for our shareholders through the accretion in our TerraForm Power ownership and the acceleration of our Incentive Distribution Rights (IDRs). Together with TerraForm Power, SunEdison’s development platform will change how energy is generated, distributed and owned around the world.”
Acquisition Terms, Asset Overview and Invenergy Relationship
“This agreement speaks to Invenergy’s proven track record as an independent power producer and to our excellence in facility operations,” said Michael Polsky, Invenergy founder, president and chief executive officer. “Clean power is driving our energy future, and this transaction will enable us to further invest in our industry-leading development pipeline and bring significantly more clean energy to market in the years ahead.”
TerraForm Power intends to acquire net ownership of 460 MW of the wind power plants from Invenergy with the remaining 470 MW to be acquired by a new warehouse facility, for a combined $2.0 billion in aggregate consideration. Average unlevered CAFD of the acquired portfolio is anticipated to be $141 million annually over the next 10 years, generating a levered cash-on-cash return of approximately 8.4 percent.
The acquired portfolio is comprised of seven contracted wind farms located in the United States and Canada. The assets have a weighted average remaining contract life of 19 years and an average counterparty credit rating of AA.
Invenergy will retain a 9.9 percent stake in the U.S. assets and will provide certain operation and maintenance services for these power plants.
The continuing partnership with Invenergy is expected to provide significant opportunities for future collaboration and growth. Invenergy is North America’s largest independent wind power generation company, and its portfolio of clean power projects includes operating facilities totaling approximately 6.6 gigawatts (GW), with another 2.5 GW under construction or contract. This transaction represents the transfer of approximately one-tenth of Invenergy’s total contracted portfolio.
“As an independent, privately-held company, this transaction is consistent with how we finance growth in our capital-intensive industry and reflects the strength of Invenergy’s business model,” said Jim Murphy, Invenergy chief financial officer and operating business group president. “Market interest in these wind projects was strong, reflecting the quality of these renewable energy assets, all of which have long-term power sale contracts.”
Approvals and Timing
The companies anticipate closing by the fourth quarter of 2015.
Completion of the transaction is conditioned upon approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The transaction is subject to the notification and reporting requirements under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and other customary closing conditions.
TerraForm Power is a renewable energy leader that is changing how energy is generated, distributed and owned. TerraForm Power creates value for its investors by owning and operating clean energy power plants. For more information about TerraForm Power, please visit www.terraform.com.
SunEdison is the world’s largest renewable energy development company and is transforming the way energy is generated, distributed, and owned around the globe. The company develops, finances, installs, owns and operates renewable power plants, delivering predictably priced electricity to its residential, commercial, government and utility customers. SunEdison is one of the world’s largest renewable energy asset managers and provides customers with asset management, operations and maintenance, monitoring and reporting services. Corporate headquarters are in the United States with additional offices and technology manufacturing around the world. SunEdison’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SUNE.” To learn more visit www.sunedison.com.
Invenergy and its affiliated companies develop, own, and operate large-scale renewable and other clean energy generation and storage facilities in North America and Europe. Invenergy is committed to continued innovation in clean power solutions. Invenergy’s home office is located in Chicago and it has regional development offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Europe.
Invenergy and its affiliated companies have developed more than 9,100 MW of projects that are in operation, in construction, or under contract, including 76 wind, solar, and natural gas-fueled power generation projects and energy storage facilities. For more information, please visit www.invenergyllc.com.