New wind turbine offsets energy costs at LCOOCC

May 13th, 2011 | By | Category: 22-4: Honoring Student Success, Tribal College News

WIND POWER. Students and faculty at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College attach prayer bundles, one for each direction, to the guy wires of the tribal college’s new wind turbine. From left: Vince Desiderio, Mike Taylor, Dan Sullivan, and Greg Furtman (behind the stepladder). Photo by Mike Smith

A new one-kilowatt wind turbine installed in November at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC, Hayward, WI) is now charging the college’s Renewable Energy Sustainable Development Institute (RESDI) building’s battery bank, supplying electricity and providing students with valuable career experience.

The Bergey Windpower Co. XL-1 wind turbine sits on top of a 100-foot, tilt-up guyed tower at the college’s research farm north of the campus. Following an Ojibwe prayer, it was successfully hoisted aloft during the fall semester by the renewable energy instructor, students, student interns, staff members—and even the college president, Dr. Danielle Hornett.

Renewable Energy Program student Dan Sullivan first spoke to the spirits for the tobacco that Steve Kozak, RESDI/Sustainable Living instructor, gave him, asking for a blessing for the turbine project. He then tied the four prayer bundles to the four guy wires that secure the turbine tower to the grounded tower anchors in each of the four cardinal directions— north, south, east, and west. After the prayer ceremony was completed, Kozak gave a safety and procedure talk, and they proceeded to erect the turbine.

The electricity produced from the wind turbine currently charges the battery bank in the renewable energy lab facility, which in turn powers the lab itself. Kozak said that next semester, any excess power will supplement the college’s energy needs.

“The power equipment will be re-configured so that power surpluses will be able to go out onto the utility grid,” Kozak said, “thereby enabling the system to generate some revenue credits towards the college’s electricity bill.”

Installation of the three-bladed, horizontal- axis Bergey wind turbine also provided students in the renewable energy program an opportunity for practical, hands-on experience, complementing their study of small-scale wind generation.

During the following semester, the Hybrid Wind Systems and the Wiring for Renewable Energy classes will conduct a Wind Turbine Comparison Field Test. That will involve setting up a computer and monitoring equipment to compare the Bergey turbine’s power output to the second wind turbine, Kozak said.

That second turbine, a one-kilowatt Windspire (Windspire Energy), is a 50- foot vertical axis wind turbine that will connect directly to the utility lines that service the college farm buildings. The computer will monitor both machines and will be able to compare each turbine’s power output, simultaneously, on a real-time basis. This field test will then be able to document how well each machine performs during varying wind conditions, as well as their respective overall power output.

“The test will, over time, establish the technical and economic feasibility of producing useful power production on the LCO reservation,” Kozak said. “Hopefully over time a case can be established for expanding wind generation efforts to other locations throughout the reservation and the region in general.”

For more information about LCOOCC’s renewable energy certificate, contact (715) 634-4790 or by e-mail info@lco.edu.

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