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PCC Wind Turbines Save Energy

11 March 2015

With the help of some major pieces of equipment, Pratt Community College remains a leader in renewable energy among Kansas institutions of higher education. PCC supplements their energy usage with wind turbines, one of the fastest growing segments of energy production.

Between 2008 and 2015, wind and solar energy tripled in the United States, according to a recent Washington Post report on Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s 2015 Factbook. Worldwide wind power production increased 44 percent in 2014, says Inhabitat, a blog dedicated to architecture, technology and sustainable home design.
“PCC supports environmental stewardship and energy savings in many ways,” said Kent Adams, Vice President of Finance and Operations. “In addition to recycling and energy efficient lighting and boilers, the college’s wind turbines supply approximately 20 percent of our electrical needs.”

The college installed three turbines on campus in 2008 designed to last 30 years. The free standing towers are 100 feet tall with an additional blade height of 24 feet. The average energy production of PCC’s turbines is 202,582 kwh and the seven year production total was 1,418,078 kwh at the end of last year. 

Facilities Director Dan Petz and his crew perform small routine maintenance tasks on the machines, such as unplugging and resetting them when the wind speed reaches above 50 mph, the machine’s high wind capacity. Semi-annual maintenance is taken care of by Ethos Distributed Solutions in Wheat Ridge, Colo., the closest company that services this type of equipment. 

“The ground around the turbines is securely fenced and locked to deter intruders and prevent tampering,” said Petz. “We’ve never had any accidents or problems associated with their presence and find them to be a great benefit to our operations.”

The U.S. Department of Energy ranked Kansas as ninth in the nation in wind production in 2014. They put so much importance on nationwide wind usage that they are holding a 2016 Collegiate Wind Competition. The competition challenges teams of undergraduate students to design complex wind energy projects including business plans, deployment strategies, turbine construction and testing.