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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

College moving forward with plan to build second wind turbine

<rleton College will soon have a second wind turbine in an effort to reduce Carleton’s outside energy consumption.

A generous donation was given by Carleton alums Richard and Laurie Kracum in 2008 to purchase a new turbine. The two former Carls liked the progressiveness of Carleton’s first wind turbine and wanted to aid Carleton on their mission to be more environmentally friendly. Thanks to their help, Carleton has been able to develop plans for a second turbine.

Planning for the new turbine has been in the works since the Kracums’ contribution. The plans for the project have been largely shaped by the direction of the Wind energy economy.  In 2008, when the donation was made, the Wind Turbine Market was booming, meaning that commercial-sized turbines like Carleton’s current model were not available to small, single-unit purchasers. However at the beginning of last year, the wind turbine market had a downturn, giving Carleton the option of buying one larger, single unit turbine instead of fleet of smaller turbines.

Carleton is still shopping for their desired turbine.  “There are three major factors we have to consider while looking for the right turbine,” said Martha Larson, the manager of Campus Energy and Sustainability. “First, we want the lowest priced turbine for the highest production of energy. Second, there have to be service crews readily available in the Minnesota or Northern Iowa area to come to Carleton in case the turbine needs repair. And lastly, there has to be a good warranty and service agreement.”

Carleton is also currently considering a much larger turbine than the existing one. The current turbine is 70 meters tall with 82 meter diameter blades. The turbine being considered is 80 meters tall with 90 meter diameter blades. The increase in size and height of the new turbine means more energy production, making a more efficient machine.

On top of searching for turbines, Carleton has had to look for a prime piece of land to place the new turbine. So far, over ten land parcels have been evaluated. The school is looking for a place that has the best possible wind strength, is the friendliest for the environment, is close to Carleton, and stays out of neighboring buildings’ space. Currently, Carleton is seriously considering a section of farmland that is east of the Arb and just off of Highway 19. The farmers who own the land would lease it to Carleton, since the piece of land is not actually on campus.

From its location, the wind turbine would be directly connected to Carleton’s power grid, meaning that 100 percent of the energy from the wind turbine would go directly to feeding Carleton’s energy demands. The current wind turbine only supplies about 30 percent of the energy it creates to Carleton,with the remaining 70 percent going directly to the Xcel energy grid.

“Nothing is set in stone,” Larson remarked about the meticulous but preliminary planning the committee has done so far. “We still have to make the final decisions about the turbine, the land, and everything in between.”

If all goes according to plan, the turbine will be installed in the early summer of 2011. The installation process takes a languorous three to four weeks (one to two weeks of setting the foundation and an additional one to two weeks of installing the turbine), not to mention system checks to make sure the wind turbine is working. Final decisions regarding the turbine project will be made by December 2010, including putting the down payment on the selected turbine. Larson hopes that “the turbine will be installed and functioning by the beginning of the next school year,” so that Carleton can keep pioneering forward on the never-ending quest of being environmentally friendly.

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