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ISSUE 119 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/24/2006

Turbine grant approved

By Cate Grochala
Staff Writer


Friday, March 24, 2006

Due to a delay in grant approval, the wind turbine will not be installed during the 2005-2006 academic year. The grant was recently approved, however.

The wind turbine and its tower have been ordered and are scheduled to be installed during the first week of July, according to Pete Sandberg, assistant vice president of facilities.

The wind turbine project is being funded largely by a grant awarded to St. Olaf College by the Renewable Development Fund.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approves these Renewable Development Fund grants.

Legislative changes allowed more groups to apply for these grants.

The increase in applications due to this change took a longer time for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to process and created a delay in processing grants.

While the grant was awaiting approval, the Renewable Energy Production Incentive, a key part of the Federal Energy Bill was approved.

All commercial wind and other renewable energy sources depend on this part of the bill, and when it was past, these places ordered their turbines.

As a result, St. Olaf had to wait for these groups who had been able to order their turbines while the grant was still not yet finalized.

"We were not able to order until the grant was finalized, and so we found ourselves at the end of a very long line of folks waiting for equipment," Sandberg said.

This delay in the construction of the wind turbine is not holding back any other sustainability initiatives on campus.

The wiring and foundation for the turbine and its tower are completed and ready for the turbine and tower to be installed this summer.

“[The turbine] was to have gone up last June or so – then November, then January, then May, and now July,” Sandberg said.

“The difference is, this date has actually become part of the contract.”

Also, the lack of a wind turbine will not put St Olaf at a disadvantage in the energy conservation month competition against Carleton, as the wind turbine would not have impacted the rate of energy consumption but would have produced energy.

Sandberg noted St. Olaf community members should still try to minimize their energy consumption, even after the wind turbine arrives for two reasons.

"First, most of the non-wind kilowatt hours we consume have a significant carbon impact," he said. "Second, most of the savings associated with our project are because we avoid the cost of purchasing 6,000,000 or so kilowatt hours per year. We still have to fund a lot of energy purchases, and because natural gas has become so expensive the amount off-set from wind will be more than absorbed."

The turbine will be built on a site “just west of the hill, almost straight out from Ytterboe Hall, about 1,300 feet,” according to Sandberg.





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