Getting Started with Wind for Schools

This page summarizes best practices for Wind for School participants, which can be helpful for others planning school turbine installations. To learn how a project moves from concept to reality, review the best practices for school wind projects.

Identify a Champion

A project cannot succeed without a local project champion, an individual, or group to keep the key players in the community informed, cooperating, and moving toward project goals. The project development stages of learning finance agreements, power purchase agreements, permitting, obtaining equipment, construction, and operations and maintenance can be lengthy and time consuming. Local politics, personalities, and public opinion are always involved, and a local project champion is essential to move the project forward.

Select Sites with Good Wind Resources

An excellent wind resource should be a project prerequisite. To determine which sites offer good wind resources for wind turbine installation, you can view residential wind maps that highlight the wind speeds at 30 meters.

Be Flexible with Your Project Model

Local situations and preferences will determine the project model. Different basic project models will require a different wind resource, financial arrangements, and partnerships. Below are several examples that can be considered when developing a model.

  • Behind the meter, in which a wind turbine is sized to less than the school load and is used to decrease energy bills
  • Piggybacking, in which the school or community develops a financial agreement with a nearby large-scale wind farm
  • A community-scale turbine.

Choose Partners in the Community

Successful partnerships increase the likelihood of a successful project. Ideal Wind for Schools partners include:

  • National laboratories
  • Consultants and state facilitators
  • Turbine manufacturers
  • Local and regional utilities
  • Conservation law and policy organizations
  • The school and community.

Research Economic Options and Challenges

Wind energy development is complex; although there is an appearance of financial risk, schools have access to many funding mechanisms. Local and state grant monies may be available, and it is not unusual to find private or community donors willing to participate.

Be Aware of Local and State Policies

A variety of policies at the state or local level can impact a school wind policy. These policies include:

  • Renewable portfolio standards
  • Buy-down programs or tax benefits
  • Net metering policies
  • Permitting and zoning
  • Environmental policies.

These policies should be reviewed as they will impact the feasibility and nature of the project. Favorable policies can make a big difference to the success of a project.

Evaluate the Wind System

Wind for Schools projects should select a wind turbine based on the following attributes:

  • Manageable size (the nameplate power capacity is small enough to not present a net-metering conflict with the local utility or power cooperative and to allow installation using local resources)
  • Primary AC power production (ensures simple interconnection with a school’s electrical systems)
  • Guyed lattice and monopole tower options at multiple heights
  • Integrated data acquisition capabilities with Web-based monitoring capabilities
  • Manageable total system cost that includes significant turbine price discounts from the manufacturer
  • Proven company track record with a commitment to expand support for school-based wind systems and a nationwide support infrastructure to allow installation, warrantee, and maintenance support.

Other turbine technologies and sizes may be applicable but should be selected for their ability to meet the basic requirements listed above and to provide performance data for other Wind for Schools partners.