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N.E. Tech plans 123kW wind, solar farm

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The turbine and photovoltaic installation will help the school train its electrical-technology students for ‘green-collar’ jobs

WARWICK – New England Institute of Technology today announced plans for wind and solar energy projects, at its Access Road campus along Interstate 95, that are intended to reduce the school’s energy bill while expanding its curriculum.

In launching the alternative energy initiative, New England Tech is “making an investment in its energy future, and in the future of its students, by preparing them for ‘green-collar’ jobs,” school officials said.

Construction of both projects – a 156-foot-tall wind turbine and a 135-panel solar-electric (photovoltaic) system – is slated to begin next month, New England Tech said. The installations “will demonstrate the possibilities of renewable energy generation for both academic purposes and for economic and environmental concerns,” the school said.

This fall, after the installations are complete, New England Tech will expand its associate’s degree program in electrical technology to include renewable-energy generation, via sources such as wind power, photovoltaic, solar hot water, hydropower, tidal power, geothermal power and fuel cells.

“Students will examine the components, installation, environmental impact, maintenance, practicality, site sustainability and local regulations pertaining to renewable-energy sources, and will track the energy produced by New England Tech’s wind turbine and photovoltaic panels,” performing both net-metering and economic-impact analyses, the school said. The program is intended to prepare them to take the national certification exam offered by the North American Board or Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

Meanwhile, the new on-campus installation – featuring SolarWorld photovoltaic panels, two solar inverters made in Massachusetts by Solectria Renewables LLC and a Northwind 100 turbine from Northern Power of Barre, Vt., a member of the Distributed Energy Systems Corp. family of companies – will be overseen by Alteris Renewables Inc., a Connecticut-based contractor with an office in Bristol, whose wind division is headed by local alternative energy pioneer Robert W. Chew. (READ MORE)

The turbine, capable of generating up to 100 kilowatts (kW) of electricity, “is extremely quiet as it spins,” according to New England Tech. At the site’s estimated average wind speed of 11.9 mph (5.3 meters per second), it could generate about 164,029 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. The solar installation will be capable of producing another 23.63 kW of electricity. Together, the school said, they could generate enough electricity to power 18 to 20 homes.

Both systems are to be connected to the National Grid electrical system. And, “through recently enacted ‘net metering’ and ‘net billing’ laws, National Grid will credit New England Tech with any extra electricity fed into the grid,” New England Tech said.

New England Institute of Technology, founded in 1940, offers more than 20 programs leading to associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, and through its Center for Technology and Industry, also offers on-site technical skills training to employers nationwide. To learn more about New England Tech and its programs, visit www.neit.edu.

Alteris Renewables Inc. – formed by the October 2008 merger of Bristol-based SolarWrights Inc. and Vermont-based Solar Works Inc. – is a designer, contractor and systems integrator focusing on solar-electric (photovoltaic), solar-thermal and wind-energy systems for commercial, industrial and residential clients. Additional information is available at www.AlterisInc.com.

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