Micro-Wind Turbines for Lansing

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The city of Lansing is installing energy-efficient  micro-wind turbines on the rooftops of building in the downtown area.

Randy Hannan, the chief of staff for Mayor Virg Bernero said the project will funded by the $1.2 million grant called the Energy Efficient Conservation Block Grant, which is given to fund different programs that promote energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable resources.

“A team of energy and wind experts are currently evaluating a number of locations that would optimize performance,” Hannan said. “We have to make sure to put the turbines where they would be the most efficient.”

Hannan said it is still to be determined what the total budget of the project will be but some potential locations include city hall and the Lansing Center.

In an address to the city of Lansing, Bernero said he plans to work with WindStream Technologies Inc., a company located in Indiana that specializes in small-scale, affordable energy. According to the WindStream website, each micro-turbine can be priced at $1,200 to $1,500.

Each unit consists of three micro-turbines that stand about 3-feet tall and look like a double helix. The units can be stacked, lined up on roofs or installed in other high places to optimize wind output, according to the company’s website and educational videos.

Capable of catching winds as low as 4 or 5 miles per hour, the turbines will be able to contribute a small portion of energy for the buildings on which they are installed, serving as a small step in the city’s investment in green energy.

However, small-scale wind turbines may be more hype than help said Airport Communications Director Michael Conway. Recently, the Detroit Airport installed a turbine that dwarfs the turbines being considered by the city of Lansing. Conway said the turbine is only able to power the parking lot lights.

“I guess it’s more of a symbol that Michigan is invested in trying out green sources of energy,” Conway said.

Hannan said he is hopeful that the WindStream turbines will be more effective than the one installed at the airport because of a lower upfront operating cost, which would lead to a faster payback.

Ultimately Hannan said that the city will have to collaborate with the Lansing Board of Water & Light to evaluate turbine performance. But if successful, private partners, including downtown businesses, could also eventually be enticed to purchase their own turbines.

Our hope is that we have them installed as running and operational no later than this summer,” Hannan said. “We’re excited to take the first steps towards making Lansing a greener, more environment friendly city.”

WindStream could not be reached for comment for this story.

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