June 21, 2018
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Presque Isle session to highlight energy programs in Aroostook

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Representatives of two Presque Isle institutions that have pioneered the use of green energy and related instruction on their campuses will discuss Thursday night how sustainable energy will factor into The County’s economy and way of life.

Don Zillman, president of the University of Maine at Presque Isle; Berry Ingraham, director of physical plant at Northern Maine Community College; and Jason Parent, director of development and college relations at NMCC, will speak at the session beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Northeastland Hotel. The event is being hosted by the Maine Better Transportation Association.

In May 2009, UMPI became the first university campus in the state — and one of only a handful in New England — to install a midsized wind turbine to generate power.

The project was financed by UMPI’s internal savings and a $50,000 grant from the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Campus officials said they anticipated the turbine would produce about 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and save the institution more than $100,000 annually in electricity charges. When fully operational, the turbine is expected to save an estimated 572 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year.

From July 1, 2009, to the end of March 2010, the university saw $85,000 in savings because of the windmill, according to figures provided by the university. The campus still is analyzing data to see what the figures are in terms of savings and production for the year ending June 30.

But the windmill was not operational for about 70 days over the past seven months because of problems contractors believe are related to the turbine’s delicate sensor system, Zillman said early last month. The turbine remains under warranty with general contractor Lumus Construction Inc., which partnered with the university on the $2 million project. Crews were able to repair the equipment and get the windmill back up and running late last month.

Zillman will speak tonight about green initiatives at UMPI that recently won the university the Second Nature Leadership Award for its sustainability measures.

In 2008, NMCC launched its wind power technology program, which was the first of its kind in New England. Students in the program learn to operate, maintain and repair wind turbine generators. The program quickly became popular and helped to boost enrollment at the college.

During commencement exercises at NMCC in May, the first 14 wind power technology graduates received associate degrees. The program also has attracted the attention of donors and in April, NMCC officially dedicated the Northern Maine Center for Excellence in Alternative Energy Training and Education. The facility was made possible thanks to a $1.2 million donation from California resident and Presque Isle native Mary Smith, who bestowed the gift in honor of her late husband.

Students in the program practiced climbing the UMPI turbine as part of their training.

NMCC’s Ingraham and Parent will speak about the college’s energy programs, including the wind power program and other energy initiatives.

The event is open to the public.

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