Allen Brook could install wind turbine by spring (1/14/10)

Jan. 14, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

It’s been more than a year in the making, but it looks like Allen Brook School will get a wind turbine this spring.


    File photo
A wind turbine, similar to this one located behind Hinesburg Public Library, could soon be installed at Allen Brook School in Williston.

Allen Brook Principal John Terko has worked since 2008 to bring an energy-producing wind turbine to the school. By collecting grant money and working with Williston-based Earth Turbines, Terko’s efforts are nearing fruition.

Located near the southeast corner of the school, where it’s deemed windiest, the wind turbine and its tower will climb between 80 feet and 112 feet, depending on which design is implemented.

The power generated by the turbine will be hooked directly into the electric grid and help reduce energy costs by way of net metering. Under net metering, the school’s power meter will calculate when the turbine generates power, lowering electricity costs. Terko believes the turbine could generate enough electricity for four classrooms during the windiest months.

“I’m really trying to do this to introduce the kids to a greener Earth,” Terko said.

He said Allen Brook science teachers are already thinking of ways to implement the turbine’s energy production into lessons for students in first and second grade.

The turbine features a new design created by Earth Turbines. Made exclusively for residential and small business use, the turbine will be tested by the alternative energy company this winter, said Caleb Elder, the company’s customer support specialist. Elder said Allen Brook provides a great site for the turbine.

“It’s great to know there is such a supportive School Board, and principal, in Williston for this wind turbine,” Elder said.

Terko has already secured much of the funding needed for the $23,000 cost of the turbine. Early in 2009, the district was awarded an $11,500 grant from the Vermont Solar and Small Wind Incentive Program. Recently, the school earned $7,500 from the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. The remaining $4,000 will come from Allen Brook’s grounds budget, Terko said.

Elder said Earth Turbines will soon file a certificate of public good with the Vermont Public Service Board. This will officially inform neighboring residents and the town about the project. Since the turbine is hooked up to the electric grid and provides an alternative source of electricity for the school, Planning and Zoning Director Ken Belliveau said that under state laws the project does not need town permits.

Once the certificate of public good is filed, the public will be able to send letters and e-mails commenting on the project to Earth Turbines and the school district. Elder said the FAA will need to be alerted since the turbine will be located along an airport flight route.

As for the benefits of having a wind turbine at the school, Terko estimates it will generate between 250 and 500 kilowatts of power per month. He said the turbine’s design works best with an average daily wind speed of 10 mph.

“That’s about what I get here almost every day,” Terko said. “It takes advantage of a lower wind speed than some of the older models of its kind.”

Since Earth Turbine’s design is a modification of past turbines the company has built, Allen Brook will be one of the first non-test locations for the company. Earth Turbines warranties the tower and the turbine for five years.

The entire Williston School District is looking to cut electricity and energy costs in Williston Central School and Allen Brook. The new turbine will go a long way in helping reduce those costs, Terko said. He said he would have more details on the project at a February School Board meeting.