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Finding energy at great heights  

WALTHAM – In an effort to go green, Brandeis University wants to put up a 160-foot tower in Sachar Woods as a prelude to erecting a wind turbine.

“It’s one of the highest points on campus and there are no abutters that would be in the fall zone,” said William Bushey, Brandeis Energy Manager. “I think the height and the fact that is away from neighbors is what makes it an ideal location.”

That area, he said, is subject to most powerful winds on campus. A meteorological tower would gather wind velocity data daily for a year as part of a study to determine if a wind turbine there is feasible.

Officials hope wind power would lower electricity costs and be better for the environment.

“It’s timely … this is just another step in our energy conservation or our energy program,” said Mark Collins, vice president for campus operations. “I think it’s a good potential project that could certainly benefit the university and benefit the environment.”

Collins said Brandeis is far from making a decision in purchasing a wind turbine, which could cost upwards of a few million dollars.

“This is one thing we’re looking at … if at the end the of the day it looks like a worthwhile project,” Collins said. “We’ll … weigh the options … but we are really early on in that process.”

According to Collins, Brandeis does not have a date set to meet with the city’s Building Department about the tower. Collins said he expects a formal application to be submitted soon and a meeting to occur within the next two months.

Collins said the cost of erecting the tower is between $25,000 and $30,000.

Brandeis was recently approved for a $15,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) for the tower.

Jon Abe, senior project manager for Renewable Energy Trust, a division of the technology collaborative, said Brandeis was chosen because the school showed great interest in the project.

“It looked like it was a good site. It looked like Brandeis was committed to learning more and it would be consistent with their higher education mission,” Abe said.

Abe said his organization is funding installation of a wind turbine at Forbes Park in Chelsea. Abe said the Chelsea turbine is the closest of its kind to Waltham.

“Like any wind turbine project we fund most of the efforts, whoever the entity is we’re funding, does the bulk of the work,” he said. “It came about the same way. They did a feasibility study. … Now we’ve permitted the project.”

Collins said there are many steps that would follow the tower’s data collection before the campus purchases a wind turbine.

“It requires both public review and public approval and it also requires the university to work internally to fund such a project,” he said. “It could cost between two and three million dollars … it would need to compete with other priorities. Right now it’s a purely an investigative thing.”

By Jeff Gilbride
Daily News Staff

Daily News Tribune

3 March 2008

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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