Plans are still alive for the Purdue Energy Park, a wind turbine farm on the northwest side of Tippecanoe County.
Construction is slated to begin this summer on the 20-megawatt project, which is now about a fifth of the size originally planned by Indianapolis-based developer Performance Services several years ago.
“We’ve been developing this project for almost three-and-a-half years so it’s been a long time coming,” said Tony Kuykendall, business development manager for Performance Services. “We’ve had to make a lot of changes to keep the project alive. It’s been a very, very difficult time for power purchase agreements.
“We’re still very excited. We could be up and producing power before the end of this year.”
The $40 million project on property adjacent to Purdue’s Animal Sciences Research and Education Center near County Roads 650 North and 450 West will consist of 12, 1.7-megawatt General Electric wind turbines.
Construction will begin in July or August, Kuykendall said, provided the developers win approval from the Tippecanoe County Board of Zoning Appeals. They will appear Wednesday in front of the board to request a special exception to build the project.
Plans for a Purdue-affiliated wind park go back to 2005, with Performance Services getting in on the game in 2011. The project stalled because of an uncertain climate for wind energy.
Two Indiana utility companies have agreed to buy the power from the turbines, which will be distributed in central Indiana. GE and Performance Services, which is developing the project with Juhl Energy, have a five-year contract to operate and maintain the turbines.
The project carries Purdue’s name although turbines no longer are planned to be constructed on Purdue property. Purdue also has no financial connection to the project.
The association, said Purdue’s director of physical and capital planning Ken Sandel, allows for Purdue to engage in research related to the wind energy park.
“Purdue’s interest is in creating an opportunity for our researchers,” Sandel said. “We think it complements our mission quite well as a public land grant institution. We will have access to the wind farm for researchers to utilize the technology and the equipment in order to engage in sponsored research across a lot of different research areas.
“It’s just not engineering. It involves a lot of our different colleges and schools. We’ve looked around and said there’s about 50 faculty who have identified research that could leverage this project.”
Kuykendall said the turbines will be outfitted with additional capabilities for research, including web-based monitoring devices.
“Purdue will do what they do best which is help identify the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for renewable energy,” Kuykendall said. “They’ve got a whole list of topics they’re interested in pursuing, anything from blade efficiency, power production, preventative maintenance and noise.”