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Program to place wind turbines at schools  

A program aided by the U.S. Department of Energy seeks to place small wind turbines at several rural Kansas high schools in the next three years.

Wind for Schools is a national outreach effort of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, where organizers hope to familiarize rural America with a cheap local source of power.

The program will help selected schools construct a 1.8-megawatt wind generator on a 60-foot tower. In addition, they’ll provide educational support for all school levels to create lessons based on the turbine.

“We decided several years ago that it was very important for us to work at helping rural schools understand wind energy, both from the power point of view and a curriculum point of view,” said Margeurite Kelly, senior project manager at the laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Dan Nagengast, executive director of the Kansas Rural Center at Whiting, recently was named state facilitator for the project. He’ll seek to work with three to five communities each year in establishing turbine projects over the next three years.

Kelly expects Kansas State University to be the site of the program’s Wind Application Center, which will offer technical aid to the local school projects. The center also will train junior and senior college engineering students. A contract is pending on the partnership.

Kelly said Wednesday the program’s directors sought parts of the country with little activity in wind energy education.

Colorado has a program, with one school turbine already running and others in the planning stages. Idaho, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota are other initial states, as well as Kansas.

About $25,000 in annual seed funding will be available in the state from the Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America program for the three years.

Local sources and grant funds also will be sought to help purchase the turbine equipment, which is provided at cost by turbine manufacturer Southwest Wind Power.

Green tags – also known as renewable energy certificates that compensate for the turbines’ clean power – can be sold to help finance the projects.

The interest is in funding the people involved and not the equipment, Kelly said. Aside from curriculum support, teachers at school sites also will be invited to learn more about renewable energy at the Golden laboratory.

“We’re trying to develop human capability,” she said.

The goal is for Kansas to put up three to five small systems each year for the next three years.

“At that point we hope the state will have enough momentum to manage it.”

By Sarah Kessinger

Harris News Service

The Hutchinson News

1 July 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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