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EDPR is Enabling Students to Become Future Leaders.

EDPR is Enabling Students to Become Future Leaders.

Across the United States, the local public schools in rural communities face tremendous financial challenges.

However, a few school systems, like the one in Lowville, New York, home of the Maple Ridge Wind Farm co-owned and operated by EDPR, have prospered in challenging times.

Cheryl Steckly, Superintendent of Lowville Schools, speaks highly of the support that Maple Ridge has given to the schools she oversees. The support to local schools and government, known as PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes), from Maple Ridge has allowed her schools to build at a time when neighboring and peer systems have seen devastating budget cuts.

“During a time many school districts have experienced fiscal stress as a result of reduced state aid, our school has been able to maintain staffing levels, increase opportunities for enrichment, and provide additional special education and academic intervention services,” Steckly said.

Thanks to the financial assistance provided through the PILOT program, Lowville schools now boast upgraded science labs, a completely redesigned art space, an impressive athletic complex, and state-of-the-art security systems. Remarkably, these renovations were all completed with no cost to local taxpayers, again, thanks to the PILOT program and also state building aid.

Lowville school administrators first learned of the Maple Ridge project 14 years ago. Administrators and Board of Education members were cautiously optimistic at first, Superintendent Steckly reports, and felt the preliminary reports were very promising.

Fourteen years later, Maple Ridge’s positive impact to this community is readily apparent. As the district continues to upgrade its schools, PILOT funds will go toward replacing roofs, upgrading heating and cooling systems, and installing new gymnasium bleachers and a larger generator. In addition to funding resources for classroom learning, students have augmented their education with on-site learning at Maple Ridge, working with EDPR employees. Students from Lowville Academy have toured the Maple Ridge facilities to learn about the operation of wind farms. This education has been furthered in the classroom, as elementary teachers have developed units of instruction on alternative energy sources.

Lowville schools will be able to continue improving their facilities and educational opportunities with no increase in taxes for seven years, thanks to the funding provided by Maple Ridge. Steckly emphasized that additional opportunities for educational programming with EDPR would be welcomed by the district in the future.

“We have had a very positive relationship with EDP Renewables and hope to see this relationship continue,” Steckly said. “We welcome any and all efforts to develop new projects or renegotiate agreements as the Maple Ridge PILOT expires in five years.”