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First large wind turbine project approved in Tippecanoe County

Wind turbine petitionThe Purdue Energy Park project received the final necessary approval to continue with construction in Tippecanoe County.

The project has been in the works since Fall 2010 and has now moved towards the final stages of the project following its approval at the Tippecanoe Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Wednesday.

The wind farm project will be located near the Animal Sciences Research and Education Center, around 12 miles northwest of campus, and will include 12 General Electric Wind Turbines, supplying around 20 megawatts of energy to the surrounding area, a conservative amount compared to other Indiana wind farms that produce at least 100 megawatts.

The project is being managed in a partnership between Indianapolis construction company Performance Services and Juhl Energy. According to Tony Kuykendall, the business development manager at Performance Services, the project will be funded by private investors and the energy produced by the wind turbines will be sold to Duke Energy and Wabash Valley Power.

In addition to the investors seeing returns from the energy sales, the project will be compensating landowners involved with the project.

Though the Purdue Energy Park is funded privately, the project dons Purdue’s name and serves a secondary purpose of providing Purdue students with a new research facility available to the University at will. Ken Sandel, the director of physical and capital planning for Purdue, said the project will offer students a valuable experience.

“When you think about the whole gambit of opportunities that there are,” Sandel said, “they span quite a spectrum from urban load management to control systems to environmental and social impact, energy economics and energy policy, agricultural production impact.”

Kuykendall added that Purdue has contributed to planning this project in regards to research collaboration.

“For the past three years, there have been faculty, staff, professors discussing what potential research could be utilized with access to the facility,” Kuykendall said. “Purdue’s main role in this is to be able to have access to the turbines, to the data, to install equipment as they see fit.”

As far as the research opportunities that might be available to Purdue students and faculty, Sandel mentioned the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and the USDA.

“We feel that this has the opportunity of producing between two and five million dollars of sponsored research annually,” Sandel said.

According to Kuykendall, the project will begin construction in June, and has an estimated life of 22 years.

“(This project) is a great opportunity for the University to be engaged in a partnership which provides the ability for renewable energy to be put onto the grid, enabling 20 megawatts of clean wind energy system to be produced,” Sandel said.

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