School-based assessment gives students hands-on research opportunity
GEORGETOWN, SC – November 13, 2008 – Santee Cooper’s wind energy research is moving to a new level with the installation today of a tower that will help determine the viability of small-scale wind turbines in coastal communities.
Santee Cooper crews installed a 60-foot transmission pole at Georgetown High School today. The pole is equipped with two wind sensors that will measure wind speed, direction and frequency at 45-foot and 60-foot heights.
Georgetown High School students studying environmental science will be charged with downloading data from the sensors over the next three to six months, helping analyze the data and offering their input as to whether the site will sustain a 1.8-kilowatt wind turbine that could be installed later in 2009.
The pole is the first of four that are planned to be installed at schools in coastal areas of the state where Santee Cooper provides electricity. Santee Cooper will put up a second pole at Coastal Carolina University’s Atlantic Center later this year, and the utility is identifying the final two schools that will get the demonstration projects.
Santee Cooper is involved in other wind research projects ongoing in Horry and Georgetown counties, laying the groundwork for what the utility hopes will eventually be commercial-scale wind energy generation along the coast. This is the first project studying the viability of small-scale wind turbines. These wind-based projects—the first in the state—are part of Santee Cooper Green, the utility’s commitment to help customers save energy and the environment. These initiatives also directly relate to its aggressive goal, approved by the Santee Cooper board one year ago, to generate 40 percent of its generation through non-greenhouse gas emitting resources, biomass fuels, energy efficiency and conservation by 2020.
“Santee Cooper is looking at every practical option for renewable energy generation, and these smaller-scaled wind studies will help us evaluate whether small wind turbines will work in our coastal communities,” said Marc Tye, the utility’s vice president for conservation and renewable energy. “They will also help us answer some critical questions about connecting wind turbines to our grid. And because they are school-based, they will give some of the most promising scientists of tomorrow a significant involvement in research that could help the entire state.”
This is a great opportunity for our students to get real-life science experience on a project that could be of great benefit to our district and environment,” said Dr. Randy Dozier, superintendent of Georgetown County School District. “I envision a time when our schools are powered by eco-friendly sources such as solar and wind generated devices.”
Santee Cooper supplies electricity to the City of Georgetown, and Georgetown partners with Santee Cooper in offering customers the opportunity to purchase blocks of Santee Cooper Green Power, noted Alan Loveless, director of electric utilities for the City of Georgetown. “Through their Green Power Solar Schools project, Santee Cooper is already giving middle school students the chance to study solar energy generation in real time,” Loveless said. “This wind project will give high school students the chance to really understand another important potential energy source, and if the project works, it’s good for all of us.”
Santee Cooper’s Green Power Solar Schools project is a partnership with the state’s electric cooperatives, providing a solar panel at a middle school in each of the state’s 20 cooperative territories. Through Internet connections, students are able to better understand the opportunities and challenges of renewable energy by monitoring and tracking solar energy generation over time and building on their knowledge through an energy curriculum that accompanies the panel.
If the wind studies support installation of wind turbines, students could monitor the energy output through computers as well.
Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility and the state’s largest power producer, supplying electricity to more than 163,000 retail customers in Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry counties, as well as to 29 large industrial facilities, the cities of Bamberg and Georgetown, and the Charleston Air Force Base. Santee Cooper also generates the power distributed by the state’s 20 electric cooperatives to more than 700,000 customers in all 46 counties. Approximately 2 million South Carolinians receive their power directly or indirectly from Santee Cooper. The utility also provides water to 137,000 consumers in Berkeley and Dorchester counties, and the town of Santee. For more information, visit www.SanteeCooper.com.