Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs to Sponsor Wind-Monitoring Program

The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University has entered into an agreement with Wilmington (IL) Community Unit School District #209 to develop a test site for monitoring wind velocity.

The Value-Added Sustainable Development Center, a unit of IIRA, works with schools, farmer and rural electric cooperatives, municipalities and others in exploring the wind potential in their locales.

According to Jolene Willis, wind-energy program assistant at IIRA’s Value-Added Sustainable Development Center, Wilmington’s Board of Education has committed the district to becoming a more environmentally conscious member of the Wilmington community.

"Superintendent Jay Plese encouraged Larry Macari, business manager, to pursue the possibility of a wind turbine to lower the annual expenditure of $250,000 for energy-related costs," Willis explained. "The IIRA grant for a meteorological, or met, tower will allow the district to move toward reducing costs, while conserving energy. The district is dedicated to demonstrating to students and the community the need for clean, renewable energy," she added.

"The opportunity to partner with Western Illinois University and IIRA on the met tower, and potentially a wind turbines project, is very intriguing," said Matt Swick, Wilmington CUSD #209 assistant superintendent.

"We are looking forward to observing the weather and wind-related data collected and are hopeful to bring this new form of wind energy to Wilmington for the benefit of our students and taxpayers."

Willis explained that a 60-meter (197-foot) met tower will be temporarily installed on or near the site, which could potentially be used for a wind turbine.

"The tower will be installed for 12-14 months, transmitting real-time data via a cellular modem," Willis said. "To accurately forecast how much electricity may be generated at a particular site, wind velocity must be measured for at least a year. The tower will then be moved to a new test site."

Fred Iutzi, program manager of the IIRA’s Valued-Added Sustainable Development Center, said that staff members at the IIRA and the center are excited to begin the next phase of the wind-monitoring project with the Wilmington CUSD #209.

"In hosting a met tower, the Wilmington test site will be gathering information regarding wind potential for their own site, as well as improving a statewide wind database and wind map that will provide valuable information to people throughout Illinois," he said.

IIRA’s Value-Added Sustainable Development Center is offering organizations and landowners throughout the state an opportunity to assess the wind at a site under consideration for wind power. This program is made possible through a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

Willis noted that a limited number of sites will be selected each year to undergo monitoring of wind velocity; sites will be selected from applicants interested in erecting either a small-scale or utility-scale wind turbine.