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Lake Region State to seek approval for wind turbine, tower near campus  

Credit:  By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald, www.grandforksherald.com 10 October 2011 ~~

Lake Region State College will seek approval Tuesday from the North Dakota Public Service Commission to build a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine/tower near its Devils Lake campus.

The project, which likely will exceed $4 million, will serve as a training tool for the school’s wind turbine technician program as well as provide the campus with some of its electricity needs.

“It’s a critical piece for our program,” said Doug Darling, LRSC vice president of instructional services.

Currently, the school provides hands-on training at wind turbines located on commercial wind farms about a two-hour round trip from Devils Lake for students and instructor.

When the wind is blowing, the turbine will provide the campus with all of its electricity needs, according to Darling. Any access electricity will be sold to Otter Tail Power Co., which services the campus and community.

“The net result is that when the wind is blowing it will provide more than we need,” he said. “At times, we’ll be buying electricity from Otter Tail and sometimes we’ll be selling it to them.”

The school uses other energy sources for heating and cooling, he said.

The school has been working to get a wind turbine since before launching the state’s first turbine technician training program in 2009. The school, which currently has an enrollment of 19, offers one-year associate and two-year degrees.

In 2009, the PSC estimated the state would need as many as 120 wind turbine technicians by 2012.

Currently, the state’s wind farms generate some 1,368 megawatts of electricity, with the potential of another 500 megawatts in under development or planned.

While the Legislature appropriated $2.6 million for the Lake Region project, it also added restrictions to the state’s growing wind energy industry, including one that requires even a single 1.5-mw turbine to receive PSC approval.

Darling said he expects profits from the electricity generated by the school to help pay part of the turbine project, adding that he is hopeful it will be operating sometime in 2012.

Source:  By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald, www.grandforksherald.com 10 October 2011

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