Wind turbine on campus will power, educate college

HASTINGS, Neb.- A green campus and a better learning environment for students studying renewable fuels. Those are goals on a central Nebraska campus being met by one tall project.

"We look at it as a win, win, win."

That's how Central Community College-Hastings campus president Bill Hitesman describes the three-partner collaboration that has resulted in an electricity producing wind turbine being built on the edge of their campus. Bluestem Energy Solutions of Omaha built and owns the turbine, Hastings Utilities will buy and sell the electricy - including to CCC - which wanted a renewable energy source.

"We consume a lot of energy on the campus, electrical energy,” said Hitesman. “That will produce enough energy to run the campus at its peak performance."

Excess energy taken in will help Hastings Utilities with other customers interested in renewable energy, according to Don Cox, of the Hastings Utilities marketing department.

"This give Hastings Utilities the ability to potentially offer other green energy packages to our other rate payers if they have an interest,” said Cox.

The college will be expanding course offerings for students in the renewable fuels field, making the educational benefit the best of all.

"It gives our students a leg up in terms of what's coming down the pike in terms of energy, alternative energy methods," said Hitesman.

The lessons learned will go beyond the classroom.

"There are different ways to look at things,” said Hitesman. “There are ways to improve our energy efforts as a society and make sure that we leave a good place for our children and grandchildren."

Plans are for the new turbine on line by the end of the December.

The project has been two years in the making, with final approvals coming from the FAA and studies showing the tower won't interfere with migratory bird patterns.