Wind Turbine Blows Away Turtle Mountain Fuel Cost

Feb 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 15-3: English Only?, Tribal College News

STANDING TALL. A wind turbine such as this Vestas V-47 will save Turtle Mountain Community College as much as $131,000 on electricity each year.

When Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC) installs a 660-kilowatt wind turbine this summer, the tribal college will be completely energy self-sufficient. The 135,000-square-foot college building is designed around the concept of the Four Directions and the Seven Teachings of the Ojibwe. The building’s entire heating and cooling system is built on geothermal energy (natural heat from the earth) and uses no fossil fuels.

Located in Belcourt, ND, just south of the Canadian border, the reservation temperatures often fall and stay well below zero in the winter. The wind turbine will eliminate the need to buy electricity from the local utility company, except for a small amount to start the wind turbine, a Vestas V-47.

The college has been working on its self-sufficiency plan for nearly a decade. “Being independent of fossil fuels is a big deal economically and culturally,” explains Dr. Carty Monette (Ojibwe), TMCC president. According to the wind data gathered at TMCC, the turbine will produce 1,900,000 kwh of electricity annually, which would be a savings of an estimated $131,100, according to Joseph Brignolo of the Foundation for the American Indian, which became involved at TMCC recently. This might be more electricity than TMCC uses. The balance will be sold to the local electric company.

The U.S. Congress provided $571,000 for the wind turbine. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $750,000. Brignolo of the Foundation for the American Indian has provided pro-bono technical assistance, saving the college over $100,000 already, according to Monette.

This is the first utility-scale wind turbine installation on any college campus in the United States. It may also be the first college campus in the nation that runs completely on renewable energy, according to Monette, who says he is getting calls from all over the country.

The wind turbine manufacturer (Vestas-America) and the Foundation for the American Indian are also collaborating on a wind turbine for Fort Peck Community College in Montana. They have invited other tribal colleges to contact them for technical assistance in getting wind turbines.

For more information, contact Dr. Carty Monette at (701) 477-7862 or Joan Andrews, president, Foundation for the American Indian, at (203) 629-9030.

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