DARTMOUTH – Students at UMass Dartmouth will have something new to look up to if a wind turbine on the 700-acre campus is approved.
The state Division of Capital Asset Management is overseeing the project and preliminary studies, including the installation of a meteorological tower to gauge wind strength, have now been completed.
A meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 in the Claire T. Carney Library on campus to discuss the project.
Students, faculty, staff and the general public are invited to attend. Planners and engineers from the Division of Capital Asset Management will be joined by university scientists for the presentation.
According to a press release, the turbine would be placed approximately 2,500 feet from Alden Avenue and 1,500 feet from Old Westport Road with an overall height of 243 feet.
The university bell tower is 254 feet tall but, because of the bell tower’s location on higher ground, the turbine will appear 30 feet shorter, officials said.
Once up and running, it would save the university an estimated $125,000 in annual energy costs.
University Vice Chancellor John Hoey said the location was carefully selected because the turbine would be “less visible” there.
Enthusiasm for the project is high on campus, Hoey said, because of the benefits a wind turbine would provide.
“We look at it not just as an opportunity to save some money but also to reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.
The 600-kilowatt turbine would produce the energy equivalent to burning approximately 39 tons of coal on an annual basis, which would eliminate 1,161 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 489 pounds of nitrous oxide from the atmosphere per year, according to UMass Dartmouth officials. Wind energy is just one of the technologies the university is currently looking at, Hoey said.
“The university has been on the cutting edge of many sustainability issues, not just wind. We’ve just begun a $35 million energy conservation project,” he said.
Susan Jennings, director of the office of campus and community sustainability, said the turbine represents a real opportunity for the university and the region. “We’ve been working with DCAM on acquiring a turbine. There’s a great commitment to sustainability on behalf of the faculty, staff and students.”
Asked if she anticipated any opposition, Jennings said: “I hope not. I would hope that the Gulf oil spill is still fresh enough in people’s minds. It’s not a question of a wind turbine or no turbine. It’s a question of a wind turbine against coal or other dirtier sources of energy. I’m hopeful that we’ll have a lot of good discussion next Wednesday.”
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