News

News

October 01, 2010

Colby Site of New Wind Turbine Test Center Through Partnership With Midwest Energy

A partnership between Colby Community College, Midwest Energy, Wind Energy Consulting and Contracting and Kansas State University is getting a subcontract award to establish the High-Plains Small-Wind-Turbine Test Center at Colby, Kansas. The test center will focus on residential and commercial scale turbines rated at 50kW and under. Data from the tests will be used in a national certification program to produce standardized rating labels for wind turbines, much like fuel mileage ratings for automobiles. Midwest Energy's desire to provide realistic savings estimates for its customers sparked the effort, according to Patrick Parke, Midwest Energy's vice president of customer services. "Initially, we considered establishing our own test center. When we learned of the competitive grant opportunity, we sought out the expertise of K-State's Wind Applications Center," Parke said. The Wind Application Center's involvement led to the inclusion of K-State's Advanced Manufacturing Institute and Colby Community College, which is a K-State Wind for Schools project participant. "We are pleased to be a part of this effort to provide reliable information about renewable energy," Parke said. "Midwest Energy will purchase electricity produced in the trials, and those funds will help sustain on-going operation of the test center." Midwest Energy also is assisting with grid interconnection for the turbines and test center start-up costs. The AMI staff will set up the instruments to measure turbine performance, an exacting task for which AMI is well-suited, with their staff expertise in designing, evaluating and improving industrial equipment. The Wind Applications Center hopes to use the center to give wind engineering students experience with small turbines, as well as to provide information to Kansas citizens on the quality of various turbines on the market. We are also excited about the collaboration with Colby Community College, which is interested in matching its programs in energy and sustainability to programs at K-State, where its students will come after their first years at CCC. Wind Energy Consulting and Contracting, a consulting firm located in Florida but with offices scattered across the country, specializes in conducting the front end wind, environmental and financial analyses for wind projects ranging from large wind parks to single ‘one-off’ installations. Their staff assist clients with every wind project development phase through construction. For the High-Plains Small-Wind Test Center, WECC provided initial help with the initial financial modeling and will continue to provide consulting advice to help the center best meet the needs of the small-wind industry. Colby Community College will host the High-Plains Center staff, and is excited to increase opportunities for wind industry growth in the northwestern Kansas region, as well as educational opportunities for its students. The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced the selection of four regional test centers, including the Colby location. Other test centers will be in Texas, Utah and New York. Test data will be submitted to the Small Wind Certification Council, an independent body that will certify small wind turbines meet or exceed performance and durability standards of the American Wind Energy Association.

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