The beginnings of a wind farm in Los Angeles? Is it possible? As someone who has worked in the wind industry since the 90’s, I have seen the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful with regards to proponents and opponents of wind energy. And sometimes, very rarely, an opportunity appears where the best of what wind power has to offer can be realized in ways that can educate, inspire and directly benefit a community in need.
I am currently involved in just such an opportunity as part of a school bond program. As a first step, I am conducting a wind feasibility study for a school in Los Angeles County within the Glendale Unified School District. This very progressive school is home to special needs students, ages 6 to 22. It is also a public school and, as such, represents a possible proof of concept for a larger program that could benefit the entire Los Angeles County public school system. The renewable energy technologies potentially implemented on this new construction project could include solar thermal for the therapy pool, photovoltaic for the parking structure and roof and wind turbines atop of a 1000 foot ridge just tucked in behind the school.
Creating a net zero energy public school would be a remarkable accomplishment. Currently, our goal is provide enough energy to mitigate 80% of the energy demand of the school. Even at this rate, the financial benefit would be immediate and applicable system-wide. Although the utility company does not have net metering, meaning you cannot sell excess energy that the school would produce back to the grid, it does open the door to this possibility.
There is hope that, through the success of pilot projects like this, more utility companies will provide incentives and rebates for community and school wind initiatives. Also, and perhaps just as significant, this project has the potential to serve as a real world example for students to learn about and experience first hand the science of wind power resulting in increased awareness and advocacy among students of all ages as well as inspiring and even developing the industry’s future leaders.
I know this is a once in a lifetime project on so many levels and I am grateful to be a part of it. The true hero in this project who I must acknowledge is the Principal of the Special Education Department at New College View School/Facts Program in Glendale; Macre ‘Jay’ Schwartz. She reminded me that to teach in a progressive school you must teach within a progressive environment.
Please follow me as I chronicle this inspiring story and let you into the world of possibilities, such as building the first wind farm in Los Angeles for a school.