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Roth: A lesson outside the Drummond classroom

By Jim Roth
Guest Columnist
Posted: 06:52 PM Friday, July 5, 2013

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Many knowledgeable people in the utility industry are predicting a future of decentralized or distributive power generation, where the power source is smaller and closer to the need, rather than giant power plants wheeling electrons across a state’s transmission lines. This trend is beginning to reveal itself in the unlikeliest of places, a rural school district with a progressive future, here in Oklahoma.

Recent news out of Enid reveals the success of Drummond Public Schools district and its steps toward ensuring its own local power. It has also created a great lesson for its own schoolchildren and anyone else who is watching. The district deserves to be bragged upon, so here are some of the details of its progress.

Drummond’s five wind turbines just completed their first weeks of operation and were installed courtesy of a grant, which stipulated 50 kilowatts of wind power. According to Mike Woods, school superintendent, the district chose to build five 10-kilowatt turbines to meet its obligations, rather than one large turbine. These turbines were acquired from Oklahoma’s own Bergey Windpower, adding to the win-win for Oklahoma.

And under the theory that it often takes a village, this project too was the beneficiary of combined efforts. The town of Drummond was the actual recipient of the grant and involved the school, along with the help of WECC LLC, a renewable-energy consultant company in the area and multiple-state region. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Mike Steinke, a principal in WECC, and am very impressed with the company’s ability to think globally, work locally and find opportunities where others aren’t willing to do the hard work. Drummond is a great example of positive synergies making things happen.

And a special shout-out to Drummond Mayor David Burford for his forward-looking and -thinking approach for his town’s kids.

Burford was quoted as saying: “Why not spend the money toward the future? Anybody that’s looking toward the future should be looking at the schools.”

Amen to what is an out-of-the-classroom lesson for all Drummond public schoolchildren.

The future of energy and certainly electricity is changing and changing rapidly. Today’s children are well to learn early that soon they will have consumer-driven effects on the electricity they consume. Soon, smart meters, smarter homes and localized power generation will be tools that tomorrow’s generations expect and demand as they manage their families’ budgets and their energy footprints. What a great start to raise their awareness by having the school’s own turbines power their light bulbs. Now there’s a great idea.

Jim Roth, a former Oklahoma corporation commissioner, is an attorney with Phillips Murrah PC in Oklahoma City, where his practice focuses on clean, green energy for Oklahoma.

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