Montana Wind for Schools Project Adds Six Turbines in Summer 2010: A Wind Powering America Success Story

Sept. 7, 2010

Photo of Governor Brian Schweitzer. PIX17435

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer helps winch up the Lewistown turbine in Montana.

Hundreds of Montana students will have a new tool to learn about renewable energy when they return to school. Wind turbines were installed at six K-12 schools across the state this summer as part of the Wind powering America's Wind for Schools project. With blades that span 12 feet across and reach 51 feet in the air, each turbine will offset a portion of the schools' energy use while teaching students and neighbors about renewable energy. The 2.4-kW Skystream 3.7 wind turbines now generate clean, renewable energy and provide a teaching platform for host schools in Forsyth, Glasgow, Lewistown, Townsend, Valier, and Wolf Point.

Funding for the Glasgow, Lewistown, Townsend, and Valier wind projects came primarily from Northwestern Energy's Universal Systems Benefits (USB) public purpose fund. The Forsyth and Wolf Point wind systems were funded by a grant from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which currently administers a portion of the Montana-Dakotas Utilities USB fund. Each host school also contributed between $1,500 and $2,500 toward the project cost.

State Facilitator Sean Micken (REsolve Energy) worked with Montana Wind Application Center (WAC) at Montana State University-Bozeman (MSU-B) interns Nate Cox and Phillip Johnson to construct the wind energy systems over about five weeks this summer. In addition to providing student summer internships, the Wind Application Center supports Wind for Schools activities by acting as a technical resource for host schools and also helps with development and funding for MSU-B courses in alternative energy and wind energy for engineering students considering a wind industry career.

The U.S. Department of Energy launched the Wind for Schools project in 2008 and now has affiliate programs in Montana and 10 other states. Participating schools each host a small wind turbine on campus and are introduced to curriculum that brings renewable energy principles and activities into the classroom. The goals of the program are to engage local communities in a discussion of wind energy and encourage the development of a technical skill base for the growing wind industry.

Governor Brian Schweitzer was on hand to commemorate the new wind turbine at Lewistown's Fergus High School, which was supported in part by a donation from Invenergy LLC, owner of the near-by Judith Gap Wind Energy Center. "Montana's on the move," said Schweitzer. "This important program will not only provide a small amount of wind energy for rural Montana schools, but will also educate tomorrow's leaders on the value and importance of this renewable energy source. I'm proud that our state has been chosen for this program." After the assembly, the Governor ran the winch that tilted the school's wind turbine into place.

For more information on the Wind Applications Center at MSU-Bozeman, contact MSU-WAC Director Robb Larson at (406) 994-6420 or