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Wind turbine blades removed

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Lake Land College Wind 06/09/17

A blade assembly is shown on the ground at Lake Land College on Thursday.

MATTOON -- The blades and other components were removed this week from the two 30-foot-tall, 100-kilowatt wind turbines on the campus of Lake Land College as part of a remediation project for these damaged, malfunctioning turbines.

However, the south turbine tower and its nacelle equipment housing have been left standing for ongoing educational use by students in the Renewable Energy Program at Lake Land. A set of turbine blades and the north turbine's nacelle will be left at ground left for student use, as well.

The two 100-kilowatt wind turbines were installed near the West Building in 2012. Vice President for Business Services Bryan Gleckler said the north turbine was funded by a federal grant and the south one was funded by a state grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

"They never really operated at the level we hoped," Gleckler said of the performance of the two wind turbines.

In addition, Technology Division Chairman Joseph Tillman, who is the renewable energy coordinator, said a lightning strike fried the generator and damaged other components in the south turbine. He said components in the north one were damaged by an issue with the electrical grid that serves the campus.

Tillman said getting the turbines repaired to the point that the blades were spinning and generating electricity again would be prohibitively expensive. Consequently, he said Lake Land opted to pursue the recent remediation project.

"We need to make the best use of our financial resources," Tillman said.

Gleckler said Lake Land hired the CTS Group to handle the turbine remediation project while also carrying out geothermal connection work and other energy efficiency upgrades at the adjacent West Building. He said using the same contractor for both tasks helped reduce project management costs.

The wind turbine remediation project amounted to approximately $30,000 of the $927,697 cost for CTS Group's work on this project and the West Building. Lake Land is paying for these two projects and for campus parking and roadway improvement through revenue from a $1.33 million bond issue.

Gleckler said the college has met the requirement of the state grant for the north turbine, but still needs to meet the federal grant's ongoing requirements that the south turbine structure be used for educational purposes.

Tillman said Renewable Energy Program students will still be able to climb in the south tower and work on equipment in the nacelle at the top to meet their safety certification requirements. He said this certification is needed for those working in the wind energy industry.

"As a college, we will still be able to do teaching on wind energy," Tillman said. He added that Lake Land also still has a 1-kilowatt wind turbine and a 10-kilowatt turbine in operation. He said the 10-kilowatt turbine meets about 5 percent of the daily electricity needs for the West Building.

Tillman said Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield recently dropped its wind energy program, so there are few instructional opportunities for wind energy students south of Interstate 72 in Illinois other than at Lake Land. He said Lake Land is starting to draw students from Lincoln Land's district.

The Renewable Energy Program also includes instruction in solar energy, geothermal heating and cooling, and bio-fuels. Tillman said Lake Land has more than 350 kilowatts of solar panels on campus, adding that the panels at the West Building meet about 40 percent of the energy needs for this facility.


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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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