County college leaders to talk at wind summit

Posted April 12, 2010, at 11:05 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:30 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The leaders of two Presque Isle colleges that have embraced wind energy are taking their story on the road.

Don Zillman, president of the University of Maine at Presque Isle, and Tim Crowley, president of Northern Maine Community College, were invited to speak at the New England Higher Education Sustainability Summit 2010: A Climate Change on Campus, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Worcester, Mass., on April 23.

Hosted by the New England Board of Higher Education, the gathering will be attended by the region’s senior leaders of higher education, business and government.

Both speakers will discuss the pioneering work of NMCC, with its wind power technology program, and UMPI, with its windmill, in the area of wind power.

Last May, UMPI became the first university campus in the state, and one of only a handful in New England to install a midsize wind turbine to generate power. The 600-kilowatt windmill is located approximately 30 yards from the baseball fields. The $2 million turbine project was initiated to help fight climate change and save the institution more than $100,000 annually in electricity charges.

Zillman said Monday afternoon that he intends to talk about the process that UMPI went through to install the turbine. His presentation will include a showing of clips from “Wind 101: The University of Maine at Presque Isle Builds a Wind Turbine,” a film that follows the step-by-step process of UMPI’s renewable energy project.

“I think the message that I will give them is that they should look at their campuses and see what sort of projects are possible for them,” he said Monday. “It could be a wind project, it could be a tidal project. Each campus needs to do what fits for them. I also probably will advise them that any project like that will be a challenge, but they should just roll with the punches and they will persevere.”

At the sustainability summit, Zillman will participate in a president’s round-table discussion on climate action planning, with discussion centered on higher education institutions that have signed on to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. UMPI in February 2007 joined the effort to move campuses across the U.S. toward carbon neutrality.

The ACUPCC, which now includes 680 colleges and universities across the country, has called on higher education institutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, heating, commuting and air travel. Zillman’s session will focus on lessons learned from signatory institutions.

Last year, NMCC became the first college in New England to offer an associate degree program in wind power technology, and Crowley will participate in a “Growing the Green Workforce: The Community College Connection” discussion. He also will tell the conference about the high level of interest in NMCC’s wind power technology program by prospective students and the wind power industry. The college has 36 students enrolled in the program and more than 50 qualified applicants for 18 available slots next fall.

The work force session will focus on the new green economy and how the emerging so-called “green-collar” jobs will affect the existing labor force. The panel also will discuss the prospect touted by President Barack Obama and others that green jobs can serve as a driver of economic recovery.

Crowley said Monday he is pleased to be speaking about NMCC at the event.

“I think it is significant that President Zillman will be at same conference talking about what UMPI has done,” he said. “I believe that our invitation to participate as panelists speaks volumes about the leading roles that our respective campuses have assumed in the areas of wind power curriculum development and the harnessing of wind to generate power. Moreover, it is fitting that both institutions were asked to share our experiences as a great deal of collaboration has existed and continues between our two campuses in this area.”

For more information on the sustainability summit go to www.campussustainability.info/events.

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