The only wind farm in Dallas County will make its home on the rooftop of El Centro College, starting next week. Students, faculty and administrators participating in Earth Day activities on Mon., April 21, will watch the start-up of 40 wind turbines (a number that will eventually double) as the blades turn gently in the breeze that circulates among Dallas downtown high-rise buildings. The group will see a live feed on televisions in the El Centro Student Center at 3 p.m.
According to David Browning, vice president for business affairs at El Centro, the college purchased 80 wind turbines, all made in the United States, at a total cost of $240,000, which includes the infrastructure – a metal grid to support the equipment – and the turbines themselves. “These turbines should have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years, and they will generate enough power to run approximately 2,000 computers that we have in our labs on the main campus,” said Browning. “We should recover the cost of the turbines in about 15 to 20 years – approximately $15,000 to $20,000 annually.”
The turbines were assembled last week, and a large crane hoisted a beam to the roof of El Centro’s “A” Building on Fri., April 18; the beam will support the wind turbines as they turn. The additional 40 units will be installed over the next several months.
“Our wind turbine farm also helps us create partnerships with companies that want to work with El Centro College to provide training and program possibilities for our students,” added Browning. “We want to be environmentally conscientious and also to show our students that they can find career opportunities in wind energy.”
He said, “We have a holistic plan for conservation – we’re not doing just one project at a time. This wind turbine farm is part of that plan.”
Other Earth Day activities in the El Centro College Student Center will include: student poster presentations, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on solar energy, air pollution, plants and the air, nature, wind turbine technology and more; a presentation by El Centro College faculty member Steve McCauley (former meteorologist for WFAA-TV in Dallas) titled “Severe Weather and Global Climate Change” at 12:30 p.m.; a presentation by the Dallas Farmers Market titled “Buying Locally and Supporting Local Farmers” at 2 p.m., Earth Day-themed airbrush tattoos and face painting (all day); a clothing swap; a bake sale; a demonstration on how to make recycled art; and other festivities. Students can visit information booths staffed by a number of campus, city and environmental organizations.