Arizona Wind For Schools Frequently Asked Questions

How does our school get involved?

Write a letter of interest, providing your school name and district, signed by either the principal or superintendent and at least two teachers at the school who are interested in using wind energy activities in their classrooms.

Who needs to be involved in the project?

For most schools, you will need to have the agreement of the Principal, Superintendent, School Board, and Facilities Manager, and the commitment of at least two teachers to implement wind energy academic activities.

How much does a wind turbine cost?

A small wind turbine (Southwest Windpower Skystream) installation costs between $15,000 and $20,000, depending on the characteristics of your site. The Wind for Schools program does not provide funding, but will help you raise money for the installation. In most cases, you can get a lot of the components of the project donated or at reduced cost. The turbines have educational pricing discounts.

How long does it take to install a turbine?

Performing the actual wind turbine installation takes very little time – a day or two to excavate and pour the foundation, and a day to put up the turbine. However, the foundation has to cure for 28 days in between, and there are several steps prior to the beginning of construction that can be time-consuming, such as fund-raising for the installation, coordinating the installation logistics, obtaining a building or conditional use permit from the City or County government, and obtaining and interconnect agreement from the electric utility serving the school.

How will the wind turbine work with our school’s facilities?

The wind turbine will be installed somewhere near your school building, but in an open space far enough away that the wind hits it. The electrical wires from the turbine will pass through conduit underground to the building structure, where they will be wired into the electrical panel. The turbine will supply electricity to the building when the wind is blowing, therefore reducing the amount of electricity you use from the utility. In addition, the turbine sends electricity generation and meteorological data to a computer at the school, where it can be seen by teachers and students. This data also goes to a database at Idaho National Laboratory.

How much electricity will our wind turbine generate?

The Southwest Windpower SkyStream is a 2.4 kW wind generator. Assuming it is running at least 20% of the time (this is a fairly conservative assumption), that means it will generate 2.4 kW x 8760 hours/year x 20% capacity factor = 4204 kWh. Thus the turbine will probably generate between 4000 and 6000 kWh per year.

Why does the Wind for Schools program use the Southwest Windpower Skystream? Can we use a different turbine?

The Wind for Schools program uses the Skystream because it has a data communications device that allows us to easily gather and transmit the turbine’s electricity generation data and some meteorological data to your school and to the national wind for schools database. In the event that you are interested in a different turbine (either an off-grid system or a much larger wind generator) the Wind for Schools program will support you and work with you to configure the turbine to provide data for academic use. The Skystream is the preferred turbine and is offered at educational pricing by Southwest Windpower.

Who maintains the turbine? What if something goes wrong?

Our Wind for Schools technical staff will provide ongoing technical support for your installation. We also have a partnership with Southwest Windpower for direct technical assistance. Contact us immediately if your turbine has a problem.

What if our school has an off-grid need for renewable energy?

Some schools have off-grid facilities (such as greenhouses) which could benefit from a small supply of electricity. The Arizona Wind for Schools is piloting a wind-and-solar hybrid off-grid installation for use in this type of application. The system costs depend on the components, but can generally be installed for less than $5000. Contact the Wind for Schools state facilitator for more information on this option.

Can we implement the curriculum without installing a wind turbine?

Yes! There are many schools in Arizona that may not be well sited for a small wind installation, may not be able to afford the installation costs, or may have an installation nearby that they can visit for educational purposes. The curriculum is designed to be used independently of the installation, and the lessons that use the installed turbine data can be used with data from any school’s wind turbine.

How much does the curriculum workshop cost?

Wind for Schools will provide a mini-workshop to your school’s teachers free of charge. A larger (half-day/full-day) workshop for more teachers (usually from the region), including curriculum materials and kits to take home, costs us around $150 per teacher to operate. Contact the Wind for Schools facilitator to find out about upcoming workshops and what fees and materials are involved.

How much do the wind turbine kits for my classroom cost? 

Wind turbine kits are available from KidWind and PicoTurbine, and range in price from $50-$150. Many activities can be performed at no cost. The curriculum materials at WindWise and the NEED Project are free to download to teachers who register on the sites. The Wind for Schools program can help you find funding for purchasing kits for your school, and has suggestions for sharing kits across districts.

For more information about the Wind for Schools program, contact Karin Wadsack, State Facilitator, at 928-523-0715 or Karin.Wadsack@nau.edu.