Schools venture into alternative energy

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Sturgis Public Schools both announced alternative energy programs this week, according to media reports. The college will "train the coming generation of wind energy technicians," while the local school system will add solar panels and a wind turbine.

KVCC could receive $350,000 in federal funding for its Wind Turbine Technician Academy, a six-month program leading to certification in the construction, operation and maintenance of utility-size wind turbines, according to a report in The (Dowagiac) Daily News. The funding is part of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education budget, which passed the U.S. House and will be considered by the U.S. Senate in September, according to The Daily News. Students will train on a decommissioned commercial turbine as well as a residential model, the report said.

In Sturgis, school officials said six buildings will be equipped with solar panels in December and a wind turbine will be installed at the grounds of the high school and middle school, The Gazette reported. As energy sources, the equipment could supply up to 10 percent of district needs, the report said.

Educators also will use the equipment to teach about renewable energy, according to The Gazette. The project will be paid for by the schools and the Abbott Fund, the philanthropic arm of health care company Abbott Laboratories, which operates a division in Sturgis. The report did not cite an amount.

The (Dowagiac) Daily News, "Wind Technician Academy to be First in the Nation," Aug. 27, 2009

The Kalamazoo Gazette, "Sturgis schools use solar, wind for teaching, savings," Aug. 26, 2009

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Green Energy Bubble," May 5, 2009