Chesapeake school to use wind power

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 12, 2014 at 11:40 am •  Published: July 12, 2014
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CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — It'll be slightly taller than the High-Rise Bridge and Mount Trashmore.

A wind turbine will rise near the towering trees and open land around Grassfield High School in the western part of the city.

School division officials hope to have the turbine running by the end of July near the school athletic complex. They anticipate that it will help power the concession area at the football stadium and reduce the division's energy bill.

They also see the turbine as a valuable way for students to study the fast-growing fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Grassfield is home to a STEM academy.

"This gives them a live, in-your-face example, which is what you want," said Paige Stutz, the division's assistant superintendent for operations.

The turbine, which will be about 70 feet high, cost about $20,000. Donations covered the expense.

This is not the first time a South Hampton Roads school division has delved into wind energy. For about the past three years, Virginia Beach has used four 60-foot windmills to help power a garage on rural Harpers Road where buses are worked on.

The project cost the Beach division slightly less than $100,000. Officials think the energy it produces will make up for its price tag within 11 years.

"It more than pays for itself over the life of the building," said Tim Cole, the division's sustainability officer.

Budgets are tight, so school divisions around the nation are looking for ways to cut costs. In 2005, the U.S. Energy Department launched the Wind for Schools project to help those interested in tapping into that power source.

By last year, more than 130 systems had been installed at schools in 11 states, including more than a dozen across Virginia and North Carolina.

Wind for Schools does not provide funding, but helps divisions find money. The standard turbine in the project costs up to $20,000 and is 2.4-kilowatts.