In as little as two years, Purdue University could be home to a wind energy park.
The Purdue Board of Trustees on Friday approved using university land for a proposed 60-turbine wind farm in Tippecanoe County.
“This will offer terrific opportunities for research related to wind power, blade design, gearbox manufacturing, sensors (and) energy economics,” said trustee Michael Berghoff. “These are innovative new ideas.”
The creation of a wind farm would be the first of its kind on Purdue property. Now with the board’s approval, the Purdue Research Foundation can lease land for turbines across the 1,600 acres at the Purdue Animal Sciences Research and Education Center – mostly agriculture land 10 miles northwest of West Lafayette.
Performance Services, an Indianapolis-based engineering and construction company, would develop the Purdue Energy Park at the center as a commercial venture, leasing the property from the foundation. The company is in negotiations with an investor for the venture. General Electric Co. and Purdue would collaborate on research and other programs related to turbine technology.
But the park is not a sure thing.
Development is contingent on replacing the animal science center’s animal-waste management system, which will be disrupted with the construction of turbines and access roads.
Jay Akridge, dean of Purdue Agriculture, said the turbines can create only a minimal disruption of existing research on the site.
“There is some concern still from faculty about how this could impact ongoing research,” Akridge said. “That is why we are looking at having 27 turbines maybe instead of 30.”
State approval also is needed for leasing university property.
Purdue Energy Park would be made up of up to 30 GE turbines at the Purdue Animal Sciences Research and Education Center.
The name Purdue Energy Park also would cover a 30-turbine wind energy farm known previously as Performance Park, which is being developed on more than 2,400 acres of private land by Performance Services as the first wind farm in Tippecanoe County.
Performance Park is planned for an area north of the Purdue land; it’s between North County Line Road and County Road 750 North and between U.S. 231 and County Road 300 West.
According to Purdue, the combined operation would be among the first large-scale commercial wind parks with a focus on research and education.
The university would receive annual lease payments of approximately $10,000 per turbine. Still unknown would be the costs the university might incur.
All parties are working quickly to get various approvals and contracts for the park to be operational by Dec. 31, 2012 – the cutoff date for tax credits on wind facilities. Zigmond said the federal program could result in savings up to a third of the park’s cost.
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