New wind turbine will power Charleston Marine Life Center

Coos County’s first wind turbine is now up and running, and it’s the future power source of the university’s Charleston Marine Life Center.

The Oregon Institute of Marine Biology received a grant to fund the installation of the 10 kilowatt wind turbine. The grant proposal, written by the Office of Sustainability, was approved in December 2013 and the construction of the wind turbine was completed last December.

Steve Mital, director of the Office of Sustainability, said the office is always looking to increase the use of alternative, greener fuels to run campus buildings. Mital said although wind energy may vary day to day and factors such as building use may require more or less energy, the turbine should be able to power the marine life center, which is expected to open later this year.

“We had a study that showed what the expected annual total energy for the marine center would be and that roughly equals the total expected output from the wind turbine,” he said.  “Once you average it out over the course of a year, it should be roughly equal.”

Craig Young, director of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology told television station KVAL that the Oregon coast is a great wind source for the turbine. 

“The wind turns the turbine, and there’s a generator inside that sends DC electricity down into the building next door, and it ends up feeding into the grid,” Young said.

This is the UO’s first venture with wind energy and Mital said Coos County is a great resource: “Part of the goal of the project is to bring a real wind installation to Coos County, which has plenty of wind resource but has yet to be harnessed.”

Mital says the experience with wind energy could pave the way for future alternative energy endeavors, including more wind energy. 

“By bringing a (wind turbine) there, we go first on the permitting process so it makes it that much easier for whoever would go second, and whoever might be interested can come talk to us and ask us about our experience installing it or whether we like the particular manufacturer,” Mital said.”All the questions that anybody would want to ask before installing their own and taking that risk, they now have somebody to ask.”

―By Corinne Boyer, Public Affairs Communications intern