UNT plans tall turbines for wind power




Posted on November 15, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 15 at 11:21 PM

DENTON — The University of North Texas is moving forward with plans to become the first university in the state to install wind turbines on campus.

The Board of Regents on Thursday approved hiring an architect and the budget for the project.

"We mean green," said Todd Spinks, UNT's Director of Sustainability. "We want to be environmentally conscious to lower our impact as much as possible."

The 125-foot-tall turbines will be installed next to the university's new 30,000-seat football stadium, currently under construction.

The state Energy Conservation Office is funding the project with a $2 million grant.

However, the turbines have raised concerns with some neighbors.

Judson Maynard lives near the site. He’s frustrated with the turbines and the stadium.

"I think they ought to be in West Texas somewhere," Maynard, 80, said. "That’s one of the reasons I'm moving!"

The university says its turbines are designed for a suburban setting and are about one-third the size of the larger ones seen on wind farms in West Texas.

The manufacturer claims that at 100 feet away, the turbines' volume will be about 51 decibels — or about as loud as children playing — within Denton's city noise ordinance guidelines.

Environmentalists have largely applauded the university's effort. The turbines are part of an overall effort by UNT to become carbon neutral by 2040.

Spinks said the turbines will save the school about $16,000 a year in electricity and provide six percent of the energy for the new stadium and surrounding buildings.

Currently, nearly 40 percent of the campus' electricity comes from coal-fired power plants.

Environmentalist groups, like the Sierra Student Coalition, have been pushing the university to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

"I think it's a really great first step," said campus organizer Jenny Marierneu, "but if we're going to be the 'mean green' school we claim to be, we need to go all the way."

UNT hopes to begin construction of the $2 million turbines in the spring and have the project finished in time for the opening of the stadium next fall.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com