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Wind Farm on the Rooftop: El Centro College Launches New Project

wind turbines and a crane that will be used to lift them in place
photo by David Browning, El Centro College vice president for business affairs

​Contact: Ann Hatch

For immediate release — April 17, 2014

(DALLAS) — The only wind farm in Dallas County now makes its home on the rooftop of El Centro College. No soil or water required — just a breeze and whirling blades that can generate energy to run computers and save money.

Students, faculty and administrators participating in Earth Day activities on Monday, April 21, watched the startup of 40 wind turbines (a number that will eventually double) as the blades turned gently in the breeze that circulates among downtown Dallas high-rise buildings. Students and employees saw a live feed on televisions in the ECC Student Center mid-afternoon.

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.”

wind turbines in front of El Centro College
photo by David Browning, El Centro College vice president for business affairs

​The turbines were assembled last week, and a large crane hoisted a beam to the roof of El Centro’s “A” Building on Saturday, April 19; the beam supports 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 turbine farm is part of that plan.”

Other Earth Day activities in the El Centro College Student Center included: student poster presentations 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”; a presentation by the Dallas Farmers Market titled “Buying Locally and Supporting Local Farmers”; Earth Day-themed airbrush tattoos and face painting; a clothing swap; a bake sale; a demonstration on how to make recycled art; and other festivities. Students also visited information booths staffed by a number of campus, city and environmental organizations.

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