El Centro looking to create wind farm in downtown Dallas

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by CRAIG CIVALE / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on November 10, 2009 at 4:12 PM

DALLAS — El Centro College is looking to install nearly two dozen wind turbines to save money on electricity.

The college has been testing one 15-foot turbine (they call it the "energy ball") on the roof of their historic Sanger Brothers Complex in downtown Dallas.

"It comes in from the windmill in DC current," explained David Browning, El Centro's Vice President of Business. "Then it goes in the box that converts it back to AC."

The project has been gathering wind data and supplying some power to the campus, which is looking to expand the project. Instead of one turbine in the middle of the roof, Browning envisions rows of turbines.

College officials have asked the city to let them cover their rooftop with 21 turbines, the first request of its kind in the city, Dallas building officials said.

The college's tests show the wind drafts off the much larger skyscrapers surrounding the college's building are strong enough to generate energy. The test turbine generates about 500 watts. Under the new proposal, the turbines would generate enough power to cut the college's energy bill nearly in half.

"Our annual [energy] bill is about a million dollars, so this will save us $300,000 to $400,000 a year," Browning said.

But since the Sanger Building is a historic structure, the college needs the city's permission to put up more turbines.

The college says the windmills would not be visable from the ground, only from higher floors of nearby skyscrapers. It's a request they hope breezes through.

"If you can take a 100-year-old former department store building and convert it into in a community college and put a wind farm in the middle of downtown Dallas, sustainable energy is something that can be done for for everybody," Browning said.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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