Kirkwood Wind Turbine Project Ahead of Schedule

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

This is a close-up view of one of 121 turbines a placed throughout Franklin county.� Landowners who have a wind turbine placed on their field met Friday, August 20, 2010 for a tour inside of one of these clean energy machines. (Emily Allen/ SourceMedia Group News)

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By Kara Kelly

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Pretty soon people will see something new in the Cedar Rapids skyline.

A 2.5 megawatt wind turbine is just days away from installation at the Kirkwood Community College Campus.

Crews are preparing the site and bringing in large cranes and equipment, setting the scene to begin the installation process.

“Right now we are a couple months ahead of schedule,” said Project Manager Brent Poole.

Soon students will have the opportunity to get hands-on training with the wind turbine for their futures.

The project aims to educate students as the field of renewable energy jobs continues to grow in the U.S.

“We’ll have all of the computer data that’s generated by the turbine and that will be hooked up to our building so they can see how much energy is generated,” said Kirkwood Executive Director of Facilities Tom Kaldenberg.

The school says it has an agreement with Alliant Energy in which it will sell the power produced by the turbine.

That money will help pay back about $4 million in low-interest loans from the state.

“After about seven to nine years we’ll pay off all of our loans and after that it will be roughly $250,000 to $300,000 a year that Kirkwood should reap from the project,” Kaldenberg said.

Project leaders said this will be the first wind turbine of its kind in Linn County, and they hope this is only the beginning of a bigger trend.

“People need to understand that renewable energy aspect is a growing market, the price of coal keeps going up and the price of wind is free. We need to understand that these types of projects need to happen more frequently,” Poole said.

The project manager said the turbine will be up and running no later than March first but could be as early as January.

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