College Planning & Management

JUN 2012

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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Business MANAGING HIGHER ED Colleges and universities are discovering the many benefi ts of wind turbines. BY DR. ANTHONY CORTESE Working With the Wind W IND POWER IS NOTHING new. People have been harnessing the wind to power ships, pump water, and grind grains for thousands of years. Now, however, America's colleges and universities are in- creasingly moving to integrate wind power into the very fabric of their institutional cultures. They are embracing the wind to reduce operating costs, lower carbon emis- sions, support local economies, and help prepare their graduates for a new world that demands incorporating sustainability into their business and personal lives. The trend to wind power on campuses across the country is clearly seen among the signatories of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commit- ment (ACUPCC), an agreement between nearly 700 colleges and universities to promote sustainability through teaching and action. More than 30 of these institu- tions — from the University of Maine at Presque Isle to the University of Maryland Baltimore County and beyond — have integrated wind power into their alterna- tive energy portfolio. Admittedly, not every campus is suited to a wind program. Simply put: wind and space are required to succeed. A strong commitment from the institution's presi- dent or chancellor's offi ce also is critical to generating wide-ranging support and maintaining the institutional fortitude necessary to carry a project for the months and years from concept to going online. Out on Cape Cod The Massachusetts Maritime Acad- emy on Cape Cod is a perfect example. Located at the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal that opens on to breezy Buzzards Bay, the academy has been never short on wind. Its engineering, math, science, and environmental-centric studies also made it an ideal institution to host a turbine. Academy Commandant and President Admiral Richard Gurnon helped supply the rest when he decided that simply offering classroom instructions on energy systems and environmental protection wasn't enough. Cadets needed to see the impact and development of wind power up close. This vision lead to a multiyear effort to explore the feasibility of installing a turbine, securing almost $1.5M in project funding, building community support, and developing an interconnection agreement with the local utility before eventually installing a Vestas 660kW turbine in 2006. The payback has been signifi cant. Cadets now receive hands-on training and deeper insights on energy systems. The turbine also now accounts for 15 to 20 percent of the Academy's electrical needs, providing an annual savings of approxi- mately $175,000. "This turbine is a money machine," 66 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / JUNE 2012 Gurnon said in 2006. "Every time the wind blows, we can invest that savings in more renewal energy." Inland in Massachusetts Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, MA, also successfully met the challenges involved in integrating wind power. As a result, the college now generates virtually all the energy it needs, while also producing additional revenue by returning surplus energy to the grid and selling renewal energy certifi cates (RECs). Completed in 2011, Mount Wachusett needed six years and a combination of $9M in Department of Energy grants and low-interest energy bonds to bring its two Vestas 1.65MW turbines online. The journey included an extensive feasibility study and a federal environmental report on the poten- tial impact of the turbines on birds, bats, vi- sual stimulation, sound, and shadow fl icker. The College also had to develop an intricate interconnection agreement with the local utility and launch a full court press to build WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM PHOTO COURTESY OF MOUNT WACHUSETT COMMUNITY COLLEGE

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