ODELL — Residents of Odell may notice something new in town.
On Thursday morning, engineering students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, along with officials from Norris Public Power, helped erect a wind turbine behind Diller-Odell High School.
The wind turbine is part of a U.S. Department of Energy program called Wind for Schools, aimed at educating the public about renewable energy resources and developing wind energy technology in communities across the country.
“The U.S. Department of Energy is trying to educate the public and develop wind energy,” said Jerry Hudgins, professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineering college. “And they came up with the idea of small wind turbines for small communities.”
Diller-Odell is one of four Nebraska schools selected for the Wind for Schools this year. Tilden, Cedar Rapids and Hayes Center have also had wind turbines built at their schools.
The turbine sits atop a 60-foot tower and is turned by blades that span 12 feet from end to end. At most, the tower will provide two kilowatts of electricity for the school.
Hudgins said on a good day, the turbine could provide up to 20 percent of the school’s total electricity requirement.
Superintendent Darrell Vitosh said the opportunity to have the turbine built at the school was one school officials couldn’t pass up.
“It’s really a great opportunity for the students and the school,” Vitosh said.
While Wind for Schools requires school districts to commit $1,500 to the project, Vitosh said the school was able to apply and receive a USDA Rural Enterprise Business grant for $10,000, nearly two-thirds of the total cost.
“The remaining balance will be in-kind labor to the businesses that helped us put it up,” Vitosh said, mentioning that Lottman Carpenter Construction helped create the foundation for the tower while Beatrice Concrete supplied the concrete base. Jim Essman of Homestead Electric will provide trenching services to connect the tower to the school.
According to Vitosh, the tower could go online in as little as 10 days, weather permitting. Cables from the tower will be connected to a box installed at the school by Norris Public Power.
Diller-Odell will also install software on a computer that monitors the tower’s electrical output as well as wind speed and direction said Joel Jacobs, who worked on the tower as part of his graduate studies at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“You will be able to read the live and logged wind data through the Internet,” Jacobs said.
In addition to providing a small amount of electricity for the school, Vitosh said the turbine will provide educational opportunities for students.
“It will help create an interest in wind energy for the students,” Vitosh said. “We’re planning on holding a meeting to discuss the curriculum issues for the future.”
Science teacher Steve Wester said the wind turbine will provide several opportunities for students to learn about energy.
“We hope to integrate science and physics into the correlation,” Wester said. “We will be able to figure out the correlation between the strength of the wind blowing and the energy produced.”
Wester said that students will also be able to learn about the economics of wind energy and the engineering of the turbine.
“This is applied sciences in action,” Wester said.