Today it is common to hear about the negative results due to the economic downturn, but what about some of the positive results making its way through to improve the economy?
Doug Hollinger, science teacher at Pavilion Central School has spent the past three years researching, calling, and making final decisions for a wind turbine incentive at the school.
Last August a 120-foot tall wind turbine was installed behind the school to accompany the solar panel located on the school’s roof. In late November the turbine was producing electricity.
“It’s really exciting,” said Hollinger, who wrote the turbine curriculum for the elementary, middle and high school. The curriculum involved math, economics, and social aspects of renewable energy.
A lot of time was spent deciding which turbine and program would best fit the school.
“I researched a lot of different turbines and felt this one (Bergy Wind power) was the strongest,” said Hollinger.
The turbine generates about 2-4 percent of electricity and was installed by Sustainable Energy Systems (SED). It is a 10kw wind turbine manufactured by Bergy Windpower. The turbine hasn’t needed any routine maintenance yet, said Hollinger, but Bergy would be responsible for the costs.
In 2002 a solar panel was installed and has been a great hands-on learning experience for students.
Hollinger and Superintendent of the Pavilion School District, Edward Orman agreed the project was not for the primary purpose of generating electricity.
“This is a great educational opportunity for students, and the community,” said Orman.
The school received an incentive through NYSERDA to cover 70 percent of the cost of the wind turbine. The actual cost of the turbine was in the $70,000 range.
Hollinger has partnered with Draker Laboratories to bring the facts of renewable energy directly into the classroom. Hollinger says it is so important to be committed to the students and continue to meet the challenges of our future.
“We have to look at other ways of producing energy,” said Hollinger, “And not just study this out of books.” Hollinger said climate change is just one of the many reasons why this is so important.
The best part of the turbine is the educational opportunities it offers. Data Aquistion unit is a program that will allow students to view the rpm of voltage, propellers, current, power, wind speed and direction, and barometric pressure on the classroom computers from sensors on the wind turbine. This information can also be viewed by the public.
Hollinger said this is the most frustrating part of waiting for the program to go through because it is an important learning tool for students.
“I am hoping in a couple weeks, we will have the program,” said Hollinger.
Hollinger said students make graphs to show how the weather affects performance.
There was a town support meeting on the subject and Hollinger said he expected to hear both positive and negative remarks.
“I went into the meeting thinking it would generate arguments,” said Hollinger who was surprised to find out everyone was all in favor of the idea.”
Hollinger and Orman said the process was very long because they were the first public school in New York to have a wind turbine installed.
Orman and Hollinger agreed it is something to be very proud of.