Schools, Colleges and Universities

Electricity from Wind: A New Lesson for Schools

Spirit Lake School District in Iowa

 

Forest City School District

 

Wray School District RD-2

  • Jay Clapper: 970-332-5758 ext. 3773; clapperj@yahoo.com. Clapper sometimes visits other districts with a presentation to help them get started with school wind projects.

 

 

This MS Word document from the Wind Powering America program describes how schools are harnessing the wind.

Click here to download a copy.

KidWind

From the KidWind web site:

"The KidWind Project is a team of teachers, students, engineers and practitioners exploring the science behind wind energy in classrooms around the US. Our goal is to introduce as many people as possible to the elegance of wind power through hands-on science activities which are challenging, engaging and teach basic science principles.

While improving science education is our main goal, we also aim to help schools become important resources for students, and the general public, to learn about and see wind energy in action."

Visit KidWind online at http://www.kidwind.org/.

Carleton College, Northfield, MN: Community Wind Project

Wind Energy in Higher Education
Case Study: Carleton College Northfield, Minnesota

CARLETON COLLEGE has a 350-foot tall mascot that is setting a new trend among universities by providing both revenue for the school and clean energy for the community. In September 2004, Carleton College dedicated the first college or university owned commercial-scale wind turbine in the nation to complement the college’s environmental statement, which aims to “be a model of environmental stewardship by incorporating ideals of sustainability into the operations of the college and the daily life of individuals.”

The 1.65 megawatt (MW) turbine is located about a mile and a half east of Carleton’s Northfield, Minnesota campus and has become “a popular destination for runners and bikers,” according to Carleton student Dave Holman. “Students love it, the community loves it, and alumni double love it…because it makes sound economic, PR, and ecological sense.”

A bit of friendly rivalry is common among schools, and other nearby universities are getting in on the action as well. Already, the University of Minnesota at Morris has installed a 1.65 MW wind turbine, and St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN is anticipating commissioning a 1.65 MW turbine in July 2006. Holman encourages the rivalry “because when we compete to do good things for society, everybody wins…and tell Olaf that Carleton’s currently winning,” he jokes.

Carleton College is a “local pioneer,” according to Bruce Anderson of RENew Northfield, demonstrating the economic and performance viability of wind development in the community. As the Project Manager f Facilities Planning and Management, Rob Lmppa says that this has been a “great learning experience.” And he is not alone. Already, Lamppa has given 50-60 tours of the turbine to school groups, individuals, and other bus loads of interested groups.

Integrating Wind in the Classroom
Many school wind projects are partially motivated by the educational opportunities in math, science, business, policy, and environmental studies, which are preparing their students with skills in a fast-growing industry. At Carleton, a variety of departments have been involved in various stages of the turbine project, such as, blade design, wind mapping for site assessment, and data conversion. For example, each month, the Carleton College Physics Department posts the wind production data in their building to keep tabs on the turbine electrical generation and revenue stream, over $384,000 to date.

Laying the Groundwork for University Wind Energy

Carleton’s installation of a 1.65 Vestas turbine was the culmination of approximately two years of planning and project development as well as an integral part of larger plans for greater Carleton campus sustainability and active renewable energy planning in the Northfield community.

During the summer of 2002, local citizens group RENew Northfield helped to convene a Northfield community wind energy task force that included the City of Northfield, the Northfield School District, Carleton College, and St. Olaf College. The task force identified a windy site on a farm about 1.5 miles east of Carleton’s campus. The college’s Board of Trustees officially approved the project in February 2004 and the project proceeded on schedule, commissioning and dedicating its turbine in September 2004.

Now that the local community has lived with the turbine for nearly a year and a half, Anderson says that there is generally “broad and strong support for the Carleton wind turbine.” A number of people have called his office at RENew Northfield just to say that they are thankful that the Carleton turbine is in their community. Anderson adds, “many view this project as a symbol of progress and pride in the community.”

Wind Economics and Policy
Electricity from the wind turbine is being sold to Xcel Energy for local use in the Northfield area. Xcel is paying 3.3 cents per kWh through a fixed 20 year contract, under the terms of Xcel’s standard small wind tariff (available for wind projects under 2 MW in Minnesota).

In addition to selling electricity to Xcel, Carleton is receiving 1.5 cents per kWh generated from the State of Minnesota via the Minnesota Renewable Energy Payment Incentive (MN REPI) program. The $1.8 million project at Carleton also was aided by a $150,000 “Community Wind Rebate” from the state of Minnesota. The rest of the capital expenditure was provided from Carleton directly.

The college expects to recoup its investment with interest within 10 to 12 years. After two semesters of independent study on the economics of the turbine, Holman suggests that “Carleton should invest in a wind farm as part of its endowment because it is an incredibly good investment. Wind for Carleton has the risk level of a bond, but returns like a stock with 8-12% per year. In addition to a yearly revenue stream of about $250,000, the PR value of the turbine has been immeasurable.”


Campus Sustainability
By generating wind power, the college offsets about 40% of its electricity use, significantly reducing harmful emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury. Over the life of the turbine, the college will avoid producing 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is important to students at Carleton who view the turbine as “a very strong piece of their school’s identity,” according to one student.

Paving the Way - St. Olaf and Others Follow Suit
Carleton might find itself to be a trendsetter if other colleges and universities in the Midwest continue to follow through on their own plans to install wind turbines. St. Olaf College, the University of Minnesota at Morris, as well as some k-12 schools are catching on to the benefits of installing a wind turbine. St. Olaf College, located just across town in Northfield, received a $1.5 million grant from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development fund to install a turbine of their own to match Carleton’s machine. Commissioning is scheduled for July 2006. St. Olaf intends to use the energy directly for its campus rather than sell it to the grid, and expects to supply approximately 30% of the campus electricity demand with wind each year.

St. Olaf also has plans to incorporate the turbine into curriculum with “a really cool set of courses called Campus Ecology I and II in our environmental studies program,” according to Pete Sandberg, Assistant Vice President for Facilities at St. Olaf. The turbine will also likely be integrated into an interim course looking at sustainable and renewable materials, in addition to, energy. “I think the educational uses will multiply pretty quickly beyond anything we can imagine right now,” says Sandberg.

When asked if the college is pleased with the turbine experience thus far, Sandberg echoed the comments of many who have worked in wind project development: “It has been very challenging!”

The community around St. Olaf has been generally supportive of the project. According to Pete Sandberg, Assistant Vice president for Facilities at St. Olaf, “we've had only positive feed back – no opposition, in fact, at the public hearing for the county conditional use permit, a Northfield realtor spoke, and said he believed that the value of properties with a view of the other turbine in Northfield were enhanced!”

Why is a wind turbine such a good fit for schools and universities? “We generated most of our electricity for most of our history,” says Sandberg about the college as its own utility. “We see it as just another way we contribute to keeping the place going as efficiently as possible.”

In the first quarter of 2006, St. Olaf College signed a turbine purchase contract with Vestas, and has installed the footings, transformer, and wiring in the new electrical equipment control room. Construction is scheduled for completion in July 2006. All of the work to date has been paid from college capital funds allocated to the project, which includes the first installment payment of $400,000 to Vestas.

To the northwest, the University of Minnesota at Morris broke ground for its own Vestas 1.65 MW turbine in November 2004, and began producing electricity for the campus in March 2005. Installed at the University’s West Central Research and Outreach Center, the turbine is the first commercial-scale wind energy project at a public university. The turbine supplies the campus with 5.6 million kWh per year, which is more than half of its electricity needs. Many colleges and universities around the U.S. that don’t have wind resources enough for their energy needs are purchasing green power to support renewables on campus. View a list of universities purchasing green power on the Green Power Network.

As has been demonstrated by multiple successful k-12 school projects in Minnesota and Iowa, wind turbines can be a great fit for educational institutions because they provide a clean energy, a new source of revenue and educational opportunities for students. Also schools sometimes have the option of using a wind turbine to directly offset their energy use, which can be a significant economic advantage.

As more and more schools across the nation “go green” in a variety of ways, the Midwest is leading the way for wind.

More information:
Community Wind website - wind in schools
Carleton College - history of the wind turbine RENew Northfield
Clean Energy Resources Teams Case Study
St. Olaf's turbine

Windustry Updates

Community Wind Conference Wrap Up
Thank you to everyone who participated at the second national Community Wind Energy Conference in March 2006 in Des Moines, Iowa. Over 500 people from 32 states and 3 countries joined the discussion to advance community wind energy development.
The conference proceedings are now available online.

Windustry is growing!
Windustry brought 3 new staff members on board in the past year to continue expanding the scope and depth of our work. Brian Antonich was an intern with Windustry for two summers before joining full-time as Small Wind Program Analyst. Brian received his Masters Degree in 2005 from the University of Washington in Electrical Engineering, focusing on wind energy systems. Cole McVey moved from North Carolina in October 2005, where she worked with the Appalachian State University Energy Center and Small Wind Initiative, to Minnesota to work as Program Associate with Windustry. Dave Tidball joined Windustry in June of 2005 to help expand the number and range of projects with administrative support. Lisa Daniels and Sarah Johnson remain fixtures on the Windustry team.
About the Windustry team

Windustry Membership
Join Windustry today. Help us continue to increase wind energy opportunities for rural landowners and communities and provide sound information and technical support. Becoming a member of Windustry builds a strong base of advocacy for public policy that supports community wind. As a non-profit organization, Windustry depends on the support of foundations, government contracts, and people who use our information and services. If you appreciate our work and would like to support our development, become a member of Windustry today!

Windustry’s Networks Expand
With our growing team of staff and support, Windustry has been able to expand our programs as well:

Home and Farm Windustry
WINDUSTRY HAS ADDED a home and farm-scale wind energy program to our menu of resource offerings. Also known as small wind, this program will focus on technical and policy issues for turbines under 100kW in size. Contact Brian Antonich at 612/870-3465, or visit: www.windustry.org/smallwind

Community Wind Listserv
When we talk about community wind, we are generally describing commercial-scale wind turbines and projects that feature local ownership and participation and are generally larger than 100 kW. To join this active wind discussion group to keep posted on today's most current news and issues surrounding community wind development!

Women of Wind Energy (WOWE) a group of individuals who support and encourage the participation of professional women in the wind energy industry by providing networking opportunities and student sponsorships. WOWE, formed in 2005 and housed at Windustry, has an online listserv and website.

We also maintain our Wind Farmers Network, an online forum for farmers, landowners, and others to ask questions, discuss current issues, and share experiences with wind energy development. Windustry launched the Wind Farmers Network in 2004, and now has over 1,100 members joined in the dialogue. If you would like to join the Wind Farmers Network, visit www.windfarmersnetwork.org, or call Windustry at (612)870-3461 with questions.

Visit Windustry at the Minnesota State Fair
AUGUST 24 – SEPTEMBER 4, 2006.
Windustry will host hands-on and interactive exhibits in the new EcoExperience Building on the State Fair Grounds.
MN State Fair

Wind Energy News

WINDPOWER 2006
Windustry staff joined 5,000 other members of the wind industry in the annual American Wind Energy Association conference. At this year's event, June 5-7 in Pittsburgh, PA, Windustry participated hosted the Community Wind Update Meeting, Women of Wind Energy Networking Luncheon, and participated in the Small Wind Stakeholders Meeting and the Wind Powering America All States Summit. It was a marathon week for Windustry in PA, but we look forward to seeing you all again next year!
AWEA 2006 Conference website

Clean Renewable Energy Bonds
Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) are a new financing tool released by the United States Treasury, to provide an incentive for publicly-owned renewable energy projects that do not qualify for federal Production Tax Credits (PTCs). The $800 million available between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2007 is for any governmental entity (including tribal governments) or electric cooperative company that applied by the April 26th, 2006 deadline. Stay tuned to hear how CREBs turn out for public wind energy projects. More information on CREBs at the Environmental Law and Policy Center Site.

Pipestone-Jasper School District, Pipestone, MN: Community Wind Project

Excerpt from Case Study done by

In Fall 2001, the Pipestone- Jasper School District was awarded one of Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund grants to construct a wind turbine. Jack Keers, a Pipestone County Commissioner, and Dan Juhl, a local wind developer, had urged the Pipestone-Jasper School District to apply for a grant to install a wind turbine at the new school to supply part of the school’s electricity needs. The District was ideally positioned and seemed like a perfect fit for a school wind turbine project. The school would be located on a very windy Buffalo Ridge location, funding for the new school was secure, and construction was significantly under budget. With the Renewable Development Fund grant in place, the District must contribute $150,000 toward turbine construction and Xcel Energy contributes the remaining $850,000.

 

Case Study is available on the CERTS website

http://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/files/CS-PipestoneJasper_wind.pdf

Proctor High School, Proctor, MN: Community Wind Project

Proctor High School's 20kW turbine went online in October 2006.

Report is from the Minnesota Power "Power of One" Website:

MP helps Park Rapids High harness wind power

"On Friday, Park Rapids High School students and teachers plan to add a new, renewable energy source to the school’s grid-connected distribution system: a wind generator, thanks to help from Minnesota Power.

Park Rapids High Harness Wind Power Workers contracted by Park Rapids High School prepare to "tip up" the wind tower and turbine on school gorunds.The generator sits atop a 100-foot tower and the Jacobs turbine can produce up to 20 kilowatts. Based on local average wind speeds onsite of about 11 miles per hour, its estimated annual output is 25,700 kilowatt-hours.

“In addition to anticipated energy savings, the project helps teachers incorporate information about renewable energy into their curricula, touching on subjects from physics, engineer­ing and chemistry to biology, ecology and meteorology,” said Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) Specialist Dean Talbott. The project also helps prompt classroom discussion on generation sources – from wind, coal and hydro to natural gas, biofuels and nuclear.

Representing MP at the school’s recent celebration of the wind project tower “tip up” were Customer Service Representative Jolynn Nilson, Customer Information Representative Jeneen Klein and Chris Reed of Reed Energy, a contract firm that works closely with MP on renewable energy projects. Other MP person­nel assisting in the project are Engineer Senior Frank Kornbaum and Regional Account Manager Mary Bindewald.

Wind Turbine MP funded similar projects at Proctor High School, Central High School, and for the Mor­rison County Agricultural Society on county fairgrounds in Little Falls. These Community Wind Power Projects are part of MP’s CIP ini­tiatives, through which the Company seeks to provide limited financial incentives for instal­lations of small-scale wind energy projects and conservation improvement within its service territory.

MP’s primary objectives in funding such proj­ects are to: increase public awareness of the importance of efficient energy use and renewable energy technologies – specifically, wind energy; facilitate, through CIP funding grants, public demonstrations of grid-connected, small-scale wind power technology (40 kilowatts or less); and encourage development of real-life working examples of renewable, wind energy technology that reinforce the principles of math and science and that can be integrated into classroom discussions and other public educational opportunities.
In connection with this solicitation of applications, MP seeks to provide CIP funding of up to $20,000 for a qualified, selected wind energy project. Park Rapids High School teachers and students are also pursuing development of an interac­tive, real-time monitoring system to analyze wind resource data, turbine energy production and more.

Bureau Valley School District, Bereau Valley, IL: Community Wind Project

Schoolyards and Wind Turbines: Bureau Valley School District Gets a Turbine

MANLIUS, IL--Locating a power plant in a schoolyard would have probably caused quite an uproar at PTA meetings everywhere a decade ago, but this is 2006 and times have changed. Keith Bolin, a hog farmer from northern Illinois, not only supports the idea, he took the lead in developing such a project in his hometown. Bolin, a father of three and a new grandpa, knows the importance of a good education and a quality school district. That is precisely why he spent two and a half years working to get a 660 kW Vestas wind turbine constructed at Bureau Valley High School.

He and his wife, Barbara, operate an outside farrow-to-finish hog operation in Bureau County and raise corn, oats, and alfalfa. Keith has farmed there since 1978, and he knows the land. He realized how windy it was in his area and started to discuss the possibilities of wind energy with his wife over the dinner table. They began to look into it together and after learning about successful turbines powering schools in Iowa at an American Corn Growers Association Conference in 2000 they were finally convinced that they had a viable site and good match with Bureau Valley High. They began to talk seriously with other people about the idea.

Bolin met Jesper Michaelsen from Vestas at a wind conference in Chicago and got him excited about the project. They applied for their first grant in July of 2002 and received $20,000 from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. They used those funds to hire consultant Jay Haley of EAPC Architects and Engineers to perform their wind resource assessment. Haley did an extensive study of the site and also took advantage of data from Monmouth College and the nearby Crescent Ridge commercial wind farm. That first grant was crucial to get the project moving. The school would never have been able to invest that much money just to see if the project was feasible. But with the study complete, and wind resource data in hand, they were confident that they had a good project and could move forward.

And he continued to lead the way. "I'm just a dirt hog farmer. I'm not the smartest guy on the block," Bolin said, but "somebody had to take the bull by the horns." Bolin views his greatest contribution as a trust builder between the local people of Bureau Valley and the "outsiders, the corporate people" who came to build the turbine. “For a community project, it takes a person or a group that really believes in it to lead and organize and to spur the professionals on. Somebody has to volunteer to be the leader. Paid professionals usually have other obligations - the superintendent has to focus on educating children, the engineer has other projects. That means a volunteer has to keep everything moving.” And keep it moving he did.

Bolin was able to secure an additional $480,000 from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and the Illinois Department of Commerce. He and his wife secured financing for the rest. “When it came time to find the term lender, Barb and I shopped around for the best rates on the remainder and ended up getting financing for $450,000 from Union Bank using tax free bonds at a rate of 3.37%.” They were still a little short, but made up the difference with the school’s operation and maintenance fund.

The school planned to use the turbine primarily to offset their electricity generation. Any excess generation will be sold to the local utility at their avoided cost of three cents. “We didn’t really negotiate with the local utility (Illinois Power), they’re just paying us their tariff rate. The real value of our project comes from reducing our electricity costs rather than selling the extra power. This was another reason we chose the 660 kW turbine. For us there’s not much advantage in producing much more electricity than we use. The fastest pay back comes from us not consuming $0.08-0.11/kWhr electricity since we can only sell it at $0.03 or so per kilowatt-hour.” Altogether Bolin expects total revenue for the project to be about $1.6 million. That could increase if the electricity rates go up faster than they estimated, or the turbine lasts longer than the expected 20 years.

The public raised some concerns during the process about noise, construction, and danger to birds in open-forum town meetings, where the turbine's architect, lawyers, and supporters were present to answer questions. Bolin said such consistent, informative communication minimized anxiety and skepticism about the project. "People need to be informed," he said. "They want to know, 'How's it doing?'" He added, "They're pretty proud of what they've done." Eventually, the community embraced the project, said Superintendent Rick Stoecker. “We could have put bleachers out there” during construction, lots of people were watching.”

Once the project was approved, the site was prepared and the turbine was installed in two months. The turbine went on-line in January of 2005, making Bureau Valley High School the first school in the state to install a turbine. In the first seven months of operation, the turbine's computerized records showed that it produced 646,397 kilowatt-hours of energy for the school and consumed only 2,715 for itself. Stoecker estimates that the turbine has saved the school district approximately $100,000 each year. “That’s two teacher’s [salaries] a year,” says Bolin.

The district considers the turbine to be a great way to earn some money, teach students about renewable energy, and help the environment. Bolin's next project was to incorporate the turbine into the school's curriculum, possibly as a business model, an agricultural project, and a study in engineering. Principal Terry Gutshall liked the idea and planned to start with physics class.

The project has inspired many other schools districts to look into wind energy for themselves. Stoecker has had so many calls about the project that he “doesn’t have time to name them all… We’ve had lots and lots of calls.” With so many other districts looking to cut costs around the state, Bureau Valley will create an exhibit and presentation that will be touted at state school board conventions, he said.

"This is probably the most significant thing I've ever done that's made a difference," Stoeker said of the turbine. "I'm real proud of it." Bolin is equally proud and has no regrets. “I would certainly do all this again and I wouldn’t really change much. We’ve tried to involve the community, politicians and the media; it’s been a very positive experience.”

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