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National Grid provides SUNY Canton $750,000 for wind turbine

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CANTON — SUNY Canton has received $750,000 from National Grid to help build a large wind turbine on campus.

The money will be used to buy a large battery that can store electricity generated overnight, when the campus does not need much power, until the morning, when the usual daily bustle begins.

“It’s one of the pieces that we need to go forward with the project,” said JoAnne M. Fassinger, college grants coordinator.

The 436-foot turbine will be built behind the baseball fields and would have a production capacity of about 1.8 to 2.2 megawatts, depending on wind activity — enough to cover about half of the college’s electricity use.

Several groups are partners on the project, including the New York Power Authority and National Grid.

The college has been discussing the turbine with National Grid all year, according to Ms. Fassinger.

“We started conversations with them probably at the beginning of the year,” she said.

The college and NYPA are continuing to look for funds through SUNY and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to help see the project through to completion.

“We’re always looking for external funding sources to be able to make this more viable,” Ms. Fassinger said.

The college will break ground in the spring and the turbine is scheduled for completion later in the year.

The turbine is expected to last about 20 years, and in that time it should produce enough power to cover its costs, although without being particularly profitable.

The college still plans to benefit from the turbine by using it to provide hands-on experience to students studying wind energy.

“Having the potential of having a physical, large turbine here can do great things,” said Michael J. Newtown, interim dean of the School of Engineering Technology.

One of the most important skills is learning how to predict the amount of electricity produced based on weather forecasts. Commercial wind farms need to be able to predict production accurately a few hours in advance.

“We need to be able to reliably teach our students, this is what you have to do,” Mr. Newtown said.

There are 24 students studying alternative energy at SUNY Canton. Mr. Newtown said he hopes the turbine’s construction will help expand the program.

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