Monday, November 7, 2011

Tech Prof Says Jobs May Trump Wind Issues

Angela Mapes Turner |
– At Indiana Tech, John Renie, associate professor of mechanical engineering, has been waiting all summer for his turbine to arrive.
The school laid a foundation for a small wind turbine near Maumee Avenue and South Anthony Boulevard, but the turbine and tower have been delayed leaving the factory. They’re expected in December.
Projects such as the one planned at Indiana Tech could possibly fill some of the gap when it comes to wind-energy research in the Midwest.
The small turbine will be hooked up to a building on campus and will include a solar array for additional power. Since it will be too small to store energy, the school will receive an energy credit on its electric bill.
Renie, who is a member of the American Wind Energy Association, said some of the negativity around wind energy has come because of wind companies that have not been responsive to residents’ needs.
The Whitley County opposition group has relied heavily on a project in Illinois, created by a non-local company. Neighbors to that farm have created a website where they document videos showing noise created when the wind turbines are iced over in winter, broken wind turbine blades and shadow flicker.
Renie said rapidly evolving technology may eventually mitigate some concerns, both for human and wild neighbors. New control systems can tell when shadow flicker is particularly bad and shut down turbines at those times; other wind companies have begun shutting down their turbines at times when bats are most active.
Renie believes in the end, the lure of homegrown jobs may help sway public opinion to wind energy.
Because the giant turbines cost so much to transport, even foreign companies that create them want to build them close to proposed developments. Indiana had between 1,001 and 2,000 wind-related jobs last year, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
The nation has gone through a few booms and busts in wind energy, all of them relying on government tax credits and subsidies, Renie said.
The way the political winds blow, so to speak, can influence new development as much as facts, Renie said, and the U.S. currently faces another uncertain time for wind-energy growth.
That could mean it’s a good time for local jurisdictions to create their guidelines for wind energy.
Renie encourages local developers to get residents involved at the beginning of the process, especially on touchy subjects such as setbacks.
He compares the polarization around wind energy to the ethanol boom of the previous decade.
“It’s as volatile as ethanol,” Renie said. “As volatile as anything.”

Monday, August 22, 2011 Report

updated: 8/22/2011 12:55:27 PM

Indiana Tech to Install Wind Turbine Report
Indiana Tech has received approval to install a wind turbine on its Fort Wayne campus. The school says it will be used for its bachelor's degree program in energy engineering. The $110,000 project will be paid for by a gift from the Steel Dynamics Foundation.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Landscaping of Foundation

Final Board Approval

Panel OKs turbine for Indiana Tech

 – Indiana Tech now has the go-ahead to build a 135-foot-high wind turbine on campus.
The Fort Wayne Board of Zoning Appeals granted approval Thursday for the university to build a 120-foot tower with blades that measure up to 15 feet.
Indiana Tech hopes to have the turbine erected late this year and placed on the east side of the Zollner Engineering Building near Maumee Avenue and South Anthony Boulevard. It will be used to provide educational opportunities in the school’s energy engineering program, generate electricity for the Zollner building and help the university save on energy costs.
The university submitted a proposal for the height of the turbine in July but was asked to resubmit the proposal after zoning officials found it misleading.
John Renie, associate professor of mechanical engineering, said only one neighbor expressed concern about the possible noise from the turbine.
In his estimation, he said the noise would be no louder than the outdoor air conditioning units next to the existing Indiana Tech buildings.
Renie said the 10-kilowatt turbine will cost about $110,000. To pay for the project, the school plans to use part of a $300,000 grant from Steel Dynamics. In case of problems, the top portion can be lowered using hydraulics.
Some environmentalists maintain wind turbines kill significant numbers of birds and bats, but Renie said those concerns are overblown.
The university has already ordered the equipment, Renie said, and hopes to install it over winter break.
Two wind turbines are also being built in Upland to help provide electricity for a new science building on the Taylor University campus.
The two 50-kilowatt turbines, which are more than 100 feet tall, are expected to be operational by the end of August.