Palmer elementary first school in state to have a wind turbine 

Susitna Energy Systems crews attach the blades on a Skytream 3.7 turbine at Sherrod Elementary School in Palmer on Nov. 6, 2009. The turbine will be used primarily for educational purposes, but will also produce power for the school.

1/7/10 Update: The Sherrod turbine now has its own web page where you can watch in real time how much power its producing.

Congratulations to Sherrod Elementary in Palmer which today put up the state’s first wind turbine at a school. The turbine – a Skystream 3.7 installed by Susitna Energy Systems, Inc. – will provide power to the school, but will primarily be an educational tool for students.

The 51-foot tall turbine could also be the first in Alaska to be part of a national program called “Wind For Schools.” There’s an ongoing effort by many groups, including REAP and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, to add Alaska to the list of six states that are part of the program. Wind for Schools is run by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is based in Colorado and is the federal government’s key research center for renewable energy.

The project was a community effort with Matanuska Electric Association, Mat-Su Borough, Mat-Su Borough School District, Local Rotary 5010 and JD Steel all pitching in volunteer help. Principal Mark Hoffman estimated the total cost of the project at about $29,000 not including the many in-kind contributions. To see more photos, click here

Also additional coverage in the Frontiersman and on KTUU

Skystream turbine at BIONIC Chiropractic (Courtesy Joe Hawkins)

Skystream turbine at BIONIC Chiropractic (Courtesy Joe Hawkins)

The turbine is the second installed recently in Palmer. BIONIC Chiropractic owner Joseph Hawkins installed a Skystream 3.7 in October at his office on Arctic Avenue.  While too soon to say how much the turbine has saved on his electric bills, Hawkins said he’s managed to sell a little power back to Matanuska Electric Association. Hawkins, whose parents installed solar panels on their Utah home in the 1970s, said he hopes the turbine will serve as an example for the community.

For those who might be interested in their own project and like to know the numbers, he said the overall project cost was about $22,000. Hawkins, however, estimated the total cost would have been about $15,000 outside city limits because of the cost of complying with city regulations.

Alaska’s Wind for Schools program to launch

Nov.  5, 2009

Fairbanks, Alaska—Wind for Schools, a nationwide program connecting schoolchildren to green energy will get its start in Alaska Friday, Nov. 6 at Sherrod Elementary School in Palmer. Installation of the program’s first wind turbine will begin at 9:15 a.m.

The Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is leading the Wind for Schools program in Alaska, along with partners Renewable Energy Alaska Project and the National Renewable Energy Lab. The program is part of the federal Department of Energy and matches elementary schools with universities. Schools host a small wind generator and implement a corresponding curriculum, while college students provide the technical knowledge and support.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Palmer residents and students as well as for the university,” said ACEP director Gwen Holdmann. “The Wind for Schools program helps students develop a knowledge base and skill set in science and energy and supports workforce development and community involvement for students in elementary school through college.”

Sherrod Elementary’s proactive approach and motivated staff made the school a natural choice to launch the program in Alaska.

“This program will provide students with a way to explore basic ideas about energy in a hands-on environment,” said Mark Hoffman, principal of Sherrod Elementary. “We look forward to what the kids will take home and out into the world from this experience.”

ACEP and its partners are planning to expand the program to 10 Alaska schools over the next year and are seeking funding through the state’s Renewable Energy Fund.

CONTACT: Kat Keith, coordinator, at 907-590-0751 or Julie Estey at 907-474-1144 or

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