Thursday, July 16, 2009


Gov. Bill Ritter announced today that six rural Colorado schools will enjoy the educational and clean energy benefits from wind turbines on school grounds as part of the Wind for Schools Program, a collaborative effort between the Governor's Energy Office (GEO), ColoradoState University, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Each school will install and operate a Southwest Windpower Skystream 1.8 kW machine. The turbines will generate a small share of the school's electricity as well as act as an educational resource for teachers, students and local residents who might be considering installing wind power. The schools are:
·         Stratton High School
·         Flagler High School
·         Wellington Middle School
·         Kit Carson Junior/Senior High School
·         Walsh High School
·         Burlington High School
The Wind for Schools Program is designed to engage rural school teachers and students in wind energy education, to give students entering college a background in wind energy applications, to provide the growing wind industry with interested and equipped engineers, and to demonstrate wind energy on a small scale to rural communities to initiate a discussion of its benefits and potential.
"These wind turbine projects represent another important way all regions of Colorado are participating in our New Energy Economy," Gov. Ritter said. "Educating today's young people about the benefits and mechanics of renewable energy systems prepares them for a wealth of future opportunities and demonstrates the crucial role our rural communities can play in mapping out a new energy future for Colorado and the country."
The schools can employ the turbines as a teaching tool for several subjects, including science and math.  The turbines also give the community the opportunity to learn more about small wind turbines, how they operate and the costs and maintenance.  The local utility will learn about how to integrate small wind into their distribution system and local installers will be able to work on a community project that will market this technology to other community members.
"It's a great fit for our area in that wind is something we deal with all of our lives around here; it's great to see it finally put to some productive use," said Kyle Hebberd, superintendent of Walsh School District RE-1. "It'll increase the awareness around here about wind power. We see it as a stepping stone to a larger project that might make some difference financially for the school."
Most of the new turbines should be installed this summer. The turbines cost $12,000 to $15,000 each. Under the Wind for Schools Program, the Governor's Energy Office will provide $5,000 and NREL will contribute an additional $2,500 to purchase the Renewable Energy Credits generated by the small turbines. The school districts contribute the remaining expenses involved.
The Skystream 1.8 kW machines will generate approximately 300 kilowatt-hours per month depending on the wind resource in an area. This is roughly the equivalent of the monthly electricity consumption of a small residence.

The Wind Powering America (WPA) program, a division of DOE and NREL, launched the Wind for Schools program in 2005. NREL conducted a pilot project that led to one small turbine project in Walsenburg, wind energy curriculum development, and a great deal of enthusiasm for the Wind for School Program's potential. Officials hope to replicate the process piloted in Walsenburg by installing many more small wind turbines at rural schools in Colorado. Michael Kostrzewa of Colorado State University's Wind Application Center has also played an instrumental role advising the schools on the turbine installation.


"Our role is to work with the schools through all of the steps that it takes to install a small turbine. Steps like how to figure out the energy in the wind, where to site the turbine, foundation design, permitting, and actual turbine installation," Kostrzewa said.


CSU engineering students who work at the Wind Application Center get an education in these areas too. The center also has a role in providing educational materials and training to the schools to help teach their students about wind energy using the school's turbine.


"We want the students at these schools to learn and get excited about wind energy to pursue a career in this field, and we hope to have some engineering students from these schools working at the WAC in the next few years," Kostrzewa added.