• Wind turbine is last of Thompson schools' energy projects

    Grants cover projects on deferred maintenance list

    By Pamela Johnson


    Reporter-Herald Staff Writer

    POSTED:   01/24/2017 03:29:40 PM MST


    Ian Skor and AJ Lyle, with Sandbox Solar in Fort Collins, install a wind turbine atop a 30-foot light pole in the east parking lot of Walt Clark Middle School on Tuesday. The turbine, coupled with two solar panels, will produce enough power to operate a new LED light to illuminate the parking lot but cut down on glare in the surrounding neighborhood. A $20,000 grant covers the entire cost of the project. (Pamela Johnson / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

    LOVELAND -- A solar array and wind turbine installed Tuesday at Walt Clark Middle School will produce enough energy to power a new LED light that will illuminate the school's east parking lot — the results of a $20,000 grant that students earned by saving energy.

    This is the final project of four at different Loveland schools whose students won a combined $50,000 for energy-saving projects.

    Each of the projects, chosen by students and district staff members, takes care of a deferred maintenance issue on the district's $72 million list. Three address lighting, and the fourth tackles the lack of air conditioning at Laurene Edmonson Elementary School.

    "The greatest part, in my mind, is that the school district has not had to put up any money for this project," said Brett Dowgin, the resource manager for the school district. "It's completely covered by the grant."

    And, the students learned a wealth of information on saving energy and resources as well as on planning projects through this energy challenge, sponsored by the Center for ReSource Conservation, and will continue to learn as they see their new lights, solar shades and wind turbine in action, he added.

    Last spring, students at schools throughout the district studied energy use and found ways to reduce that within their schools as part of an energy challenge. Overall, participating schools reduced energy use by 10.9 percent over one month by unplugging, turning out lights and turning off devices.

    Walt Clark saved the most energy, dropping its use by 20 percent and earning the largest grant of $20,000 for some sort of solar array at the middle school.

    Because the school already has solar power, the students decided to incorporate solar energy into a different type of project, one with wind power as well, Dowgin said.

    They chose to address a 1,000-watt light (a metal halide bulb) that illuminates the east parking lot and, at the same time, casts unwanted light into the surrounding neighborhood.

    This project was listed as one of many on a score card of needed maintenance for their school.

    Now, the light pole in the center of the parking lot has an LED fixture that gives off the same amount of light as a 600-watt conventional light and will be powered by a combination of a 3-foot-diameter wind turbine and two solar panels.

    The turbine will produce power from sustained winds as little as 5 mph, below the average wind speed in that area, and will shut itself off if the wind exceeds 35 mph to prevent damage to the system, Dowgin explained.

    "It goes into shutdown mode, tilts itself up and out of the wind, so it doesn't overspeed," said Dowgin.

    A cougar print is painted on a piece of a wind turbine installed Tuesday outside Walt Clark Middle School in Loveland. The turbine and solar panels will
    A cougar print is painted on a piece of a wind turbine installed Tuesday outside Walt Clark Middle School in Loveland. The turbine and solar panels will power an LED light in the parking lot and were paid for by a grant that students earned by saving energy within the school. (Pamela Johnson / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

    This project marks the first turbine within city limits that will connect to the city utility grid, and the amount of energy it will add to the system will completely offset the amount needed to power the LED parking lot light