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NLS School Board, Minn., reaches agreement on wind turbine

New London-Spicer Superintendent Paul Carlson on Monday demonstrates the new security system installed at the district’s school buildings for school board members. Tribune Photo by Gretchen Schlosser

NEW LONDON  — The New London-Spicer School Board unanimously approved an agreement Monday night to erect a small wind turbine at the school to power the district’s new greenhouse and help students learn about renewable energy, science and weather.

Board member Renee Nolting called the project “a huge opportunity for our students,” before making the motion to approve the venture.

The district’s estimated cost is $7,000 to install the 3-kilowatt vertical axis wind turbine. Minnesota Wind Technologies will loan the $21,500 turbine and the associated equipment to the district for two years and will give the district the opportunity to buy the equipment after the two-year period is over. In return, students will monitor the turbine and act as a third-party evaluator of the Taiwanese-made product.

Arvind Auluck-Wilson, of Energy Technology Innovations of Milan, and NLS teachers Tracy Tebben and Teresa Copley presented information to the board about the turbine.

The district’s Youth Energy Summit team was inspired by a visit to a greenhouse operating in the winter at Milan and began plans for such a greenhouse at NLS, Auluck-Wilson explained.

The greenhouse, for which the majority of funds have been solicited from grants and donations, is under construction, with expectations that work will continue into the school year, Tebben said.

Students have helped build the greenhouse and Tebben expects students to begin planting seeds for winter growing this fall.

“The whole thing is an experiment,” he said, noting that students worked to fill in the rock around the large pipes below the structure, and helped pour the cement for the greenhouse.

The turbine will generate power when the wind is blowing between 6 and 35 mph, and is expected to power the greenhouse. Any excess power will be flowed back into the power grid, as a connection to the grid and Kandi Power Cooperative is required, according to Superintendent Paul Carlson.

There will be Internet connections to the turbine so that students and the public can monitor a website recording the power generation, Auluck-Wilson said. There will also be weather monitoring equipment connected to the turbine.

The expectation is that students can use the turbine data and the greenhouse to study weather, physics, the concepts of renewable energy and harnessing and transforming energy for new uses, in addition to the plant science and agronomy lessons of growing plants.

“You’d be planting the magic bean here,” Auluck-Wilson told the board, noting that younger students can study the simple aspects of weather and older students can delve deeper into the physics concepts of the turbine, the wonders of renewable energy and the agronomic aspects of growing plants.

During a planning session after the regular board meeting Monday, the board also reviewed the district’s reorganization of the bus and car pickup and drop-off zones and the use of the new buzzer entry system for school security.

Taking the group out to the high school parking lot, Carlson explained that there are 17 bus stalls now marked on the pavement, and that all middle and high school students who ride the bus will enter and exit their buses in that parking lot. The lot will be restricted to buses only between 7:45 and 8:20 a.m. and between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

The middle school parking lot has been designated for student drop-off by parents bringing their children to school, plus parking for staff, fitness center users and visitors. Parking will be allowed in the high school lot for handicapped visitors and for evening events.

In addition, Carlson demonstrated the secure entry system installed this summer. The doors to the school buildings will be open before and after school, but all will be locked during the school day. Visitors must enter through the district office and principal’s office doors at the high school and the main entrances at the middle school, elementary and Prairie Meadows learning center.

A letter about the parking and security systems was sent to parents and more information is available at the district’s open house on Thursday evening.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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