North Texas Daily

UNT may build electric turbines

UNT may build electric turbines

October 14
21:16 2010

By Adam Blaylock / Staff Writer –

Students passing by the area near the new football stadium next spring may see three 150-foot electric wind turbines.

The UNT Office of Sustainability submitted a feasibility study on Oct. 11 for a state-funded project that would make the Mean Green greener by having the turbines.

The Northwind 100 turbines could be in place as soon as April, pending the approval of a $2 million grant by the State Energy Conservation Office. The feasibility study was conducted to satisfy the state’s requirements for the grant — the final element of an application submitted a year ago.

Matthew Traum of the mechanical and energy engineering faculty talked about the process of getting the state’s support for the turbines and its impact on UNT.

“This is part of that overarching story of how we’re progressing towards becoming a research university,” he said.

Todd Spinks, director of the Office of Sustainability, expects to get a final answer on whether UNT will be awarded the grant in a few weeks because the feasibility study has been submitted. But it could take as long as a couple of months.

“I wish I [knew],” Spinks said about how long it would take the conservation office to return a final answer on the requested grant.

The money for the turbines will stem from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is granting a stimulus of more than $218 million to the state conservation office, according to the agency’s website. Of that money, $53 million will be distributed to the agency’s renewable energy technology program for projects throughout the state.

Most Northwind 100 installations cost $500,000, according to the manufacturer Northern Power Systems’ website.

The added contribution of electricity from the turbines is estimated to save $14,000 to $20,000 a year in energy costs to UNT, Spinks said.

“Those are conservative measurements,” Spinks said, indicating a low savings estimate. “A worst-case scenario.”

Each turbine would put out 150,000 kilowatt-hours per year, amounting to 450,000 kwh output for all three combined, he said.

That would amount to a contribution of 6 to 8 percent of the electricity for the Eagle Point campus each year, Spinks said.

“The stadium is designed to be green,” Spinks said. “With 40 percent of the power [to the campus] already coming from a wind farm, add the power from the three turbines, it is likely to be the greenest stadium in the world.”

Previous concerns were raised about the aesthetic value and potential noise created by the turbines. Spinks said he visited a wind farm with similar turbines and said that noise would be minimal.

The Department of Energy designed the technology for these turbines to be low maintenance, low noise and to have minimal environmental impact with urban areas in mind, Spinks said.

“It gives a soft humming noise,” he said. “You know when a refrigerator icemaker first turns on? It’s about like that. Once you’re beyond 300 feet, it’s extremely difficult to hear.”

The turbines would be about 1,500 to 1,800 feet south-southwest of the stadium, and 1,500 to 2,000 feet away from the nearest homes, he said.

Natalya Geremesz, a fashion merchandising junior, supports the project.

“I think it’s good, the fact that it’s going to be green and help,” she said, “[I like] the fact that they’re going to use green energy.”

Geremesz said she approved of the state-funded effort to go green.

“The state should definitely fund projects like that,” she said. “It has the responsibility.”

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