The Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) has received a grant to develop a model for potential wind power in the U.P. The SWP is a nonprofit organization that has set national records for pollution prevention and implements innovative, science-based programs.
The grant was given to the SWP by the Michigan Coastal Management Program. This program assists organizations in protecting and enhancing coastal areas, funds studies related to coastal management and helps increase recreational opportunities in Michigan’s Great Lakes coastal area.
The project will develop a planning model to use when considering wind power, said Carl Lindquist, executive director of the SWP.
The model will help address many things from site selection, proximity to stream and wetlands, threatened or endangered species, engineering considerations, project footprint and access to road design, Lindquist said.
“This is really a study that will help us develop a planning model or boilerplate for U.P. communities to use when considering wind power,” Lindquist said.
There are currently no wind power projects being planned in the U.P., but this project would assist communities that are considering wind power, Lindquist said. One potential site for the study is north of the Dead River.
While the cost of the project could exceed $1 million, it will eventually pay for itself since the wind is free, Lindquist said.
There are many possibilities for using the wind power including having communities like Marquette eventually use it power homes and businesses, Lindquist said. The project will include students and faculty from NMU’s environmental science, engineering and the English departments.
The environmental science students will do field testing and develop conservation recommendations, said Ron Sundell, a professor in the geography department.
“When you’re talking about wind energy, it’s very different doing it off-shore than on-shore,” Sundell said. “There are a lot of ecological issues, vegetation, wildlife, water quality and terrestrial environment to take into account.”
The students have not been chosen for the field work, but the first students that will be considered are ones involved in the student environmental science organization, which Sundell is the advisor of. Faculty from the geography department will also be included in the project, Sundell said.
Upper classmen who already have experience with field work along with students in the early stages of their schooling will also be considered when gathering the group to help with the project, Sundell said.
“It’s all about interdisciplinary approach,” Sundell said. “It’s good to get students involved from different groups.”
Rochelle Dale, an adjunct instructor in the English department, has selected students to help develop a series of essays addressing alternative energy opportunities in the U.P.
“Several students have interviewed community members and city officials about their thoughts and concerns and the problems with implementing new technologies,” Dale said.
The English department has also discussed the problems with the current energy system, which includes burning coal. The students are in the beginning stages of writing articles for the Superior Watershed Partnership website, Dale said.
The engineering department students who are involved with the project are in the class MET 200, said Mike Martin, an assistant professor in the engineering technology department. The students will also produce a technical report that the SWP can utilize when writing their final report to the state in fulfillment of their grant, said Martin.
“The students will be presenting their findings the last week of the semester to the SWP,” Martin said.
The class is part of the alternative energies minor, so there are a wide variety of students who will be helping in the fieldwork.
The final report must be finished and submitted to the Michigan Coastal Management Program by March 2011, where it will be discussed.