Investigating wind energy solutions
Grinnell College officials met this week with several local landowners to discuss the potential for building wind turbines on property north of the city to supply environmentally friendly wind power to the campus.
The College has been investigating wind energy solutions for the campus since 2005 when it began working with Wind Utility Consulting. In 2006, the College's board of trustees reviewed the consultant's feasibility study and approved construction of a wind turbine at Conard Environmental Research Area. In October 2007, the College issued an Emissions Reduction Commitment that included pursuing wind energy to reduce the College's reliance on electricity and convert as much as 30 percent of current energy usage to wind generated power.
At this week's meeting, landowners learned about wind turbines and wind energy production, preliminary designs for the College's project, a general timeline and terms of potential land use agreements, and had an opportunity to ask questions.
Rick Whitney, associate director of facilities management, said that while the College has committed to pursue wind energy solutions, landowners are under no obligation to involve their property in the project. "This project is in the early design phase, and this is the first of several conversations that we expect to have with landowners," Whitney said. "There is high demand for wind turbines at this time, and much of our timeline is dependent on market availability."
Grinnell College students have worked closely with the administration to implement wind turbines as part of a larger carbon emissions reduction resolution that was passed by the student government association in 2006. Marci Sortor, vice president of institutional planning who facilitated the discussion with the landowners, explained that the construction of wind turbines will "demonstrate the College's commitment to environmental responsibility in an era of climate change and as a forward-thinking member of the greater Grinnell community."
Free the Planet, a student environmental group, provides more information about the College's wind energy project.