Arizona school pioneers a contemporary eco-education

Five wind turbines help students learn about renewable energy and increase the school’s visibility.

The turbines are a landmark. You can see them from the freeway—they’re cool looking and sexy. It’s a constant reminder to the potential of renewables.

-Daniel Snyder, Westwind Solar Electric

Customer

The Vail Academy and High School (VAHS) is a Tucson-based K-12 progressive, forward-thinking school, which was awarded a LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Objectives

  • Provide an eco-friendly education
  • Expose students to hands-on real-time education
  • Engage communities in a wind energy discussion

Project Requirements

  • Teacher training with hands-on curricula
  • Interactive and inter school wind-related research tasks

Site Details

  • Average annual wind speed: 4.0 m/s (9 mph)*
  • Average solar insolation: 6.5 kWh/m2/day*
  • Location: 32.092764,-110.809609
  • Install date: July 2010

Solution

  • Five Skystream 3.7 turbines on 14 m (45 ft) monopole towers that double as parking lot light poles
  • 11 10-kW rooftop solar PV arrays
  • Turbines provide clean, ready-to-use AC power (no external inverter or controller required)
  • “Behind the meter” connection reduces VAHS’ utility costs
  • Project cost: $85,000
  • Tucson Electric Power (TEP), local utility incentive: $27,000

Benefits

  • Brings energy technologies to students, giving them a platform to launch green-energy careers
  • Further instills VAHS’ LEED Gold certification and green education objectives
  • Projected to offset 2 percent of the school’s electricity

Partners

  • Westwind Solar Electric Inc.
  • Lloyd Construction
  • Wind Powering America
  • Tucson Electric Power (TEP)

* U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory