Nicolet Area Technical College in Rhinelander Wisconsin has installed a 10 kilowatt, 120 foot high wind turbine funded through an US$80,000 grant from Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy Renewable Energy program.Madison, Wisconsin – March 11, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] As part of a long-range commitment to renewable energy, Nicolet Area Technical College is launching an innovative project called an EcoVillage. The EcoVillage will include renewable energy systems and energy efficient structures for residential and institutional use. The college will use these buildings and systems to teach sustainable building practices, and installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems. The EcoVillage and related structures will also serve as a demonstration site for students, businesses and citizens in the area. The first phase of the project, the installation of a photovoltaic system and the wind turbine, will generate electricity for the college and reduce energy costs. Both renewable energy systems will be connected to the Wisconsin Public Service Corp. power grid. When more electricity is generated than what is needed at the site, the excess will be sold to the utility. In addition to the photovoltaic panels and wind turbine, the EcoVillage plan includes building a home that has zero net annual utility power consumption. This building, a model of energy efficiency, could get its electricity from the wind turbine and solar panels, take advantage of geothermal heating and cooling and be designed to place a premium on natural lighting. The school will conduct seminars on the construction and installation of photovoltaic panels and the wind turbines. Data collection systems will track wind speed and solar radiation at the site, as well as monitor the amount of electricity actually generated. Data will be available to Nicolet students and others through the school’s Web site. Area building tradespeople, contractors and architects will also be able to learn how such installations perform. The photovoltaic system and wind turbine, as well as the future energy efficient home, will be demonstration projects for district high schools, area businesses, and interested residents. Nicolet will provide a one-stop destination for those who want to observe renewable energy systems in operation sites without traveling outside the region. “As fossil fuel prices continue to rise and renewable energy hardware costs fall, there could be a great need for tested renewable energy equipment, and those who can install and maintain it,” said Charlie Higley, program director for the Renewable Energy program.