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Shepherd to employ new wind turbine

By Staff | Jul 3, 2009

The Shepherd University Institute for Environmental Studies (IES) has announced plans to install a small-scale wind turbine to demonstrate pollution-free ‘green’ power production, as a component of their Renewable Energy Demonstration Site located on campus. The unit, a Skystream 3.7, represents the newest generation of wind power appliances, as it is small, aerodynamically designed with low profile, and connects directly to the existing electricity distribution of a home or office, requiring no inverter. Drs. Clarissa Mathews and Ed Snyder, the scientists developing the IES Renewable Energy Demonstration Site, selected this model for teaching and demonstration purposes because it is an excellent option for home-owners or small businesses dealing with space limitations or zoning ordinances that preclude installation of larger units. According to Dr. Mathews, “this unit is ideally suited to homes or small businesses in the Eastern panhandle, as it’s small and affordable, it starts-up at relatively low wind speeds, and it is an excellent way to offset one’s carbon footprint by supplementing total electricity usage with green power.”

The IES Renewable Energy Demonstration Site, located behind the Byrd Science Center, is an outdoor educational laboratory where students receive instruction on the generation, inversion, and storage of wind and solar photovoltaic electricity, the production of biodiesel from waste vegetable oil, and the use of passive solar technologies in sustainable agricultural production. The site is also central to the IES’s outreach and training mission, which is rapidly expanding in order to meet the demand for professionals trained in renewable energy technologies to serve the ‘green collar’ workforce, recognized nationally as essential to our economic future and energy security. According to Dr. Snyder, IES Chair, “the Renewable Energy Demonstration Site, affectionately called the ‘REDzone’ by our students, provides Shepherds University and the Eastern panhandle with an up-to-date alternative energy educational and training site that will prepare both our students and the community for the changing character of energy generation in the United States. The green awareness of the Eastern panhandle, and Shepherdstown specifically, is attested to by the many new green structures being built in our area and the inability to pass through Shepherdstown without running a gauntlet of Priuses; linking renewable energy with development is the next and obvious step.” The lab is used for public education events, such as the free solar photovoltaic installation workshop held last September in conjunction with a conference on solar energy, and for demonstrating various renewable energy technologies under local conditions, serving as the first of its kind in the state of West Virginia.

Mathews and Snyder obtained funding for the project through grants awarded by the West Virginia Division of Energy and the West Virginia Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (WVEPSCoR), as well as support from the

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Shepherd University Foundation and Shepherd University itself. Due to the proximity of the REDzone to historic properties and areas, initial plans for the site were vetted through the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office. In a 2007 communication, Susan Pierce, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, wrote, “In our opinion, the components of the outdoor lab will not have an effect to cultural resources located within the proposed project area or within the viewshed of the Shepherdstown Historic District that are eligible for or listed in the National Register of Historic Places.” The project was endorsed by former Mayor of Shepherdstown, Lance Dom, who in 2007 signed the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, demonstrating the Town’s commitment to lowering its carbon emissions. Current Mayor Auxer has shown continued support for this initiative, indicating that teaching the public about renewable energy options that lower our carbon emissions is an important mission.