Will Generate Energy,
Help Train Students
BY SARAH GREGORY
Anyone traveling along Hal Henard Road will easily spot a new, unique addition to the landscape, since Friday's placement of a wind turbine in front of the Greene Technology Center.
Principal Jerry Ayers says the unit, purchased for use by students in the Green Technology program that focuses on renewable energy sources, is certainly a "landmark" at nearly 60 feet tall.
The 3,500-watt Kestrel wind turbine was purchased from and installed by Greene Tech Renewable Energy (GTRE), of Greeneville.
GTRE owner Ian Huddleston and Installation Manager Travis Payne were joined at the center Friday morning by subcontractors with M&J Construction.
The subcontractors' boom truck hoisted the nearly 400-pound turbine attached to a 60-foot monopole into place, after hinging the monopole to a fully-cured concrete base.
PART OF A 'VISION'
Erecting the turbine in front of the center was "exciting" and "another step in the implementation of the vision that began two years ago," Ayers said.
"The goal," he added, "was that the center would become the first green technology center in Tennessee at the public secondary school level."
The turbine, which cost approximately $19,500, was purchased using federal Perkins Reserve Fund grants.
Those grants are not the same as annual Perkins Grants, Ayers said, but are instead additional, competitive grants that are made from leftover Perkins Grant funds unused by other school systems.
In the last budget year, 2012-2013, the Greene Technology Center was awarded $88,000 in Perkins Reserve Fund grants.
Approximately $70,000 of that grant award was used to purchase software and indoor modules that will allow the Center's students to monitor the energy produced by the turbine.
Huddleston said that the Kestrel turbine installed at the center is a product of South Africa, imported through Savannah, Ga.
He added that his company has another unit of this type placed nearby on Roan Mountain, in Carter County.
That turbine provides enough power to cover the equivalent of a $600 electric bill, he said.
A VALUABLE TEACHING TOOL
The unit at the center is not expected to produce as much energy as the one on Roan Mountain, since the one here is located in a lower-wind-speed area, Huddleston said.
He explained Friday that the primary purpose of the turbine at the Greene Technology Center will be to serve as a teaching tool.
Students will use wireless software to track wind speeds, calculate energy production, and learn how energy is stored.
Ayers says the amount of energy the unit produces in its new location will need to be assessed before a determination can be made about how the Center can best utilize the electricity.
The new equipment will be a valuable teaching tool that fits perfectly with new programming and recent re-branding of the Greene Technology Center, Ayers said.
"The addition of new green programs, such as Green Technology and Pre-Engineering, the latest high-tech equipment in all of the career and technology programs, and the establishment of a satellite center for the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), have vastly changed the face of the Greene Technology Center," Ayers said.
"It is quickly becoming the destination for college- and career-bound high school students and adults, to gain necessary skills for new jobs in the future," he added.
BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT
Although the turbine's placement was not accompanied by a ceremony or a formal presentation, Joint Board of Education members Kathy Crawford, Deborah Johnson, and Craig Ogle visited the Center while the turbine was being lifted into place.
The Joint Board is comprised of members of both the Greene County Board of Education and the Greeneville City Board of Education.
Unanimous action by the Joint Board at previous meetings allowed for the purchase and installation of the turbine and all related equipment.
The board also granted unanimous approval to the Center's green technology programming and TCAT partnership.
"The new branding and the wind turbine in front of the school are symbols of exciting educational and career opportunities for high school students and adults in Greeneville and Greene County," Ayers said.
"We have come a long way in only two years, but in reality, we have only begun the journey."