25, No. 10, Nov. 17, 2005
turbines, solar power to bring renewable energy
Jim Barlow, News Bureau Staff Writer
photo to enlarge
by L. Brian Stauffer
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, center, talks with Interim Provost
Jesse Delia, left, and Rebecca Guyette, University
YMCA program director, after a news conference on
Nov. 14 announced a $2 million grant for three wind
turbines for campus. The YMCA sponsors the student
group that proposed the student fee to help fund cleaner
In the coming years,
wind and sunlight will help generate power at the UI’s Urbana-Champaign
campus, thanks to a blossoming student-initiative and a $2 million grant
from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.
Three 1.5-megawatt wind turbines will be built in the South Farms area.
The campus will use all of the electricity generated – about 10.6
million kilowatt-hours a year. The wind turbines also will be used as
teaching tools and in research in several academic disciplines. The
ICECF also gave $186,500 toward solar panels on a new College of Business
“We are proud to work with the Illinois Clean Energy Community
Foundation in promoting sustainable energy technologies to benefit the
university and the state,” said Chancellor Richard Herman.
The $2 million grant includes $600,000 in a two-for-one match tied to
$300,000 to be allocated for the $5.7 million project from a student-approved
fee that began in 2003. Students for Environmental Concerns –
the oldest student-run environmental organization on campus –
proposed the fee. The UI will cover most of the remaining costs.
“The students’ initiative to institute the campus clean-energy
technology fee was a crucial catalyst to bringing these renewable energy
technologies to the campus,” said Matt Malten, the sustainability
coordinator on the Urbana campus.
“Installation of these technologies will be a significant accomplishment,”
he said. “As our campus develops and implements a comprehensive
sustainability strategy, I believe these projects will prove to be a
key turning point toward aligning campus education, research and operations
with the principles of sustainability.”
J. Philip Novak, the foundation’s chairman, praised the university’s
leadership and the substantial financial commitments by students and
“The multiple benefits of the wind farm are what make it so compelling,”
Novak said. “It will generate clean, fixed-price electricity for
the campus at a time of rising energy prices, and it creates research
and teaching opportunities in several departments. It also will demonstrate
how Illinois farmers may be able to develop similarly sized wind projects
on their land.”
The $2 million grant is the largest given to a university by the ICECF,
said Ed Miller, program director of the foundation. “The UI wind
farm is at the leading edge of a growing wave of interest for ‘community-wind
projects’ that generate power for local use.”
Solar power also is gaining traction around the state, Miller said.
He noted that the solar energy system for the College of Business facility
is the 31st such project the foundation has supported and one of several
that are part of energy-saving ‘green’ building.
The Chicago-based ICECF is working with more than a dozen other universities,
school districts and municipalities in Illinois that are exploring putting
up their own wind turbines or solar PV systems in the next few years,
The wind turbines and photovoltaic cells, also known as solar PV panels,
which will be installed at the College of Business Instructional Facility
to be built at Sixth Street and Gregory Drive in Champaign, will replace
some of the electricity now generated with coal and natural gas at the
Abbott Power Plant.
Each of the wind-turbine towers will be up to 262 feet tall and hold
a three-blade rotor. Together, they are expected to provide 2.7 percent
of the campus’s annual total energy consumption and eliminate
the release of 6,700 tons of carbon dioxide, 32 tons of sulfur oxides
and 15 tons of nitrogen oxides. The solar panels will convert sunlight
to electricity and provide about 5 percent of the energy needs of the
The ICECF is a private,
non-profit organization that supports efforts to improve energy efficiency,
develop renewable energy and protect natural areas and wildlife habitat
in Illinois. In the last five years, it has awarded more than 1,700
grants totaling more than $92 million for projects in 96 counties.