LRSC wind tower construction begins

LRSC President Doug Darling (sixth from left) and a few of those he said were responsible for the success of the LRSC wind tower project prepare to break ground in a ceremony Monday on the college campus.

Lake Region State College today held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new wind turbine. The 1.6-megawatt turbine will be built three miles north of campus.

Planning for the turbine has been in the works since 2003 when the college researched installing the turbine to power the campus and launch a wind energy technician training program.

“Since that time Lake Region State College kept moving forward despite many challenges to make this plan a reality,” said Dr. Doug Darling, interim president at LRSC.

The Wind Energy Technician program was initiated first. It opened fall semester 2009, following an intense period of research, curriculum design, and construction of instructional labs. The program now produces technicians with two levels of proficiency—a one-year certificate and the two-year associate in applied science degree.

To install the wind turbine, a variety of circumstances needed to be considered before a funding request could be formulated. Site options were explored, a test mini-tower to measure wind velocity was installed, permitting and regulatory agencies were consulted, power companies were contacted to purchase excess power, wind turbine manufacturers were contacted, and engineers calculated and recalculated the ROI each time the plan changed.

Legislative funding for the turbine project was approved in 2009, with the caveat that the college must first exhaust options for accessing federal stimulus funding.  In the meantime, the FAA approved a site, an agreement was worked out with Otter Tail Power for the sale of excess capacity, and numerous regulatory hurdles were resolved.

EAPC Engineering worked with the college to help manage state, federal and regulatory approvals associated with establishing a wind turbine. Honeywell helped LRSC secure funding through Bank of America, and will work with local engineering firms to construct the turbine. NativeEnergy’s Help Build™ carbon offsets, which provide early funding for projects, are essential in making the economics of the project workable.

Darling stated the numerous partnerships and alliances helped make this project a reality.  Alliances and partnerships also helped build the wind energy technician program at LRSC.

“The college is proud to deliver North Dakota’s only wind energy technician program, and to be more energy efficient,” Darling said.

Students who complete LRSC’s Wind Energy Technician program are trained to enter the field 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

•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.

With Mother Nature’s cooperation, the wind turbine should be up in running early in 2013.

For more information about LRSC’s wind energy program and turbine project, see