Wind turbine brings green energy to Lee Hall

"What is that green, spinning contraption on top of Lee Hall?

"Over the summer, the Department of Facilities Design and Construction introduced a new project for Oswego State that uses wind power to generate energy to produce electricity on campus.

"John Moore, director of engineering and sustainability for Facilities Design and Construction, took the lead in this project. He was reading the newspaper one day, about six months ago, when he came across an article about a new invention that used wind power as an alternative energy source and SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse was to become its first test site.

"Due to Oswego’s high wind tendencies, Moore thought the school had great potential as a test site for this new project. Subsequently, Moore took the initiative and spoke to E.S.F., as well as the parent company of the turbine, Impact Technology, and soon enough the college began this $50,000 experiment.

""If it works," Moore said, "it is going to be a huge breakthrough."

"So how does it work? In simple terms, those green spinning sails atop the west end of Lee Hall, called "Powair Sails," collect wind and turn on a vertical axis. Underneath the turbine lays the school’s utilities grid, whose generator uses the collected wind energy to create electrical energy to power the campus. The Powair Sails can produce a maximum 12 kilowatts of power, which is equivalent to 200 60 watt light bulbs. This particular wind turbine, invented by Derek Grassman of Weedsport, N.Y., is unique in that it can start working at just three mph of wind, when most wind turbines need seven mph to get going. Also, it works until about 80 mph of wind, compared to the average maximum of 30 mph with conventional turbines. Moore said there will be a website which students and faculty can visit to see the present records of the turbine’s efficiency.

""This sound investment," said Tom Simmonds, associate vice president for Facilities who approved the project, "pays back in a relatively short time." Simmonds remembered a time when an oil burning plant, a non-renewable energy source, sat next to the school.

""Anyway we can explore alternative or renewable energy is a great thing for us," Simmonds said.

"But the benefits go beyond energy conservation. Both Moore and Simmonds agree, this is a great opportunity for the living classroom application. For example, the Technology Education Department can use the turbine as a model when students create their own wind turbines in class. Also, from a business perspective, students and faculty have something to work with as a model for renewable energy. In fact, Pascal Gaucher, the C.E.O. of Impact Technology, along with inventor Derek Grassman, have made plans to visit the campus this fall to speak to the student body about the new experiment.

"But on a more broad spectrum, Moore loves that students are looking up, seeing the turbine, and thinking about it.

""It gets their minds going," said Moore.

"Jason Marotta, a junior business major, said "I think it is a good step forward in the green initiative of SUNY Oswego. I support anything that supports the environment."