LRSC President Dr. Doug Darling stated numerous partnerships and alliances helped make the turbine a reality. Such alliances and partnerships also helped build the wind energy technician program at LRSC. Legislative and other state officials also were key players in making the project a reality.
“This project was the missing piece to our wind energy program. We needed the turbine to turn a good program into a great one. Students feel we have a whole new program now – one where they can study theory and then enter the work environment of a commercial grade turbine and reinforce classroom learning with hands-on experience,” Darling said.EAPC Engineering worked with the college to help manage state, federal and regulatory approvals associated with establishing a wind turbine. Otter Tail Power Company entered into a 15-year power-purchase agreement with Lake Region State College to purchase excess electricity from the college's wind turbine. Energy Services Group (ESG), a Honeywell business, helped LRSC secure funding and worked with local engineering firms to construct the turbine. NativeEnergy’s Help Build™ carbon offsets, which provide early funding for projects, were essential in making the economics of the project workable.
“EAPC Wind Energy is pleased to have been a part of this project from its early beginnings back in 2006. We applaud and congratulate the college for its persistence and the significant effort it has taken to turn their vision into a reality. This wind turbine will help the college to solidify their position as a national leader in the training and education of wind technicians,” said Jay Haley, Partner and Mechanical Engineer with EAPC.
“When the college first called us about this project, we could see its potential,” said Tim Greene, Operations Manager, Otter Tail Power Company. “We could see that it could provide the community a great opportunity to grow with the college. Now we’re involved in several ways—from buying the excess power from the turbine that the college can’t use to guest teaching on subjects such as transformer connections that our employees use every day. We also provide two $1,500 scholarships to the Wind Turbine Technician program because we know that the program will turn out quality graduates.”
“What community members will see is the wind turbine, but there is much more to this work,” said Scott Schroeder, District General Manager of ESG. “For LRSC, it’s an opportunity to set the standard in creating green-collar jobs – careers that will help fuel the country’s energy and economic growth. The project is also a piece of a larger plan to boost the college’s energy efficiency and independence. These efforts as a whole have cut electricity use on campus more than 25 percent. Honeywell is pleased LRSC continues to entrust us to carry out its vision, and we’re thankful to all the organizations involved in making it a reality.
Lake Region State College owns and operates the wind turbine and the renewable energy credits are sold to NativeEnergy over its first ten years of operations. NativeEnergy has the renewable energy credits independently certified as carbon offsets for its customers. NativeEnergy’s long-time customer Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) is the sole purchaser of the turbine’s carbon offsets.
The turbine is projected to reduce more than 50,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions during the project’s 10-year lifetime. GMCR will use those reductions to mitigate its corporate greenhouse gas footprint. “Sustainability has been an essential part of GMCR since it was founded more than 30 years ago,” said T. J. Whalen, GMCR’s Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer. “This is a great way for us to reduce our environmental footprint, and at the same time help raise awareness for sustainable energy solutions.”
The buzz of a wind turbine coming to campus may seem only a few years old, however the idea dates back nearly a full decade ago when Dr. Sharon Etemad, then president of LRSC, had the idea of making LRSC energy efficient and meeting workforce needs in an emerging field.
The program now produces technicians with two levels of proficiency—a one-year certificate and the two-year associate in applied science degree. Students who complete LRSC’s Wind Energy Technician program are trained to enter fields as operational and maintenance technicians at utility-sized wind sites.
Hands-on training begins immediately and students learn a core set of skills in electrical theory, lower voltage electric circuits, motor and generator theory, core hydraulics, and fall protection.
LRSC's Wind Energy Technician Program earned the prestigious Seal of Approval from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in 2011and 2012. The curriculum was carefully reviewed by industry professionals who found the quality of the course materials to overwhelmingly satisfy AWEA’s wind turbine technician core skill-set criteria. The seal covers four core skill sets: safety, electrical components, mechanical components, and general skills.
For more information about LRSC’s wind energy program and turbine project, see www.lrsc.edu.
To learn more about the LRSC wind tower, please see Tenacity!: A story of the little college that refused to give up.