Kansas man uses turbines to encourage wind systems
Lindsborg ? Some assembly required.
Fortunately, Bill Smalley has assembled his share of wind turbines in the past few years, and after opening the box holding the Skystream turbine, he set the thick instruction manual aside.
Smalley, along with Westar employees Mike Nolan and David Stevens, took about three hours Monday to assemble the turbine, mount the blades and erect the 45-foot steel pole just north of Smoky Valley High School.
Smalley, who owns Topeka-based Smalley Heating and Cooling, has begun specializing in installing wind and solar energy systems. He said he donates his time to help install turbines at schools, along with members of Westar’s “Green Team” employees, who lend their expertise and the company’s equipment to the effort.
Nolan said the turbine, which generates 1.8 kilowatts, would cost about $15,000 installed, but is being provided through Kansas State University’s Wind for Schools program, which encourages schools to incorporate wind energy into the science curriculum.
“It’s strictly educational,” Nolan said, explaining that the turbine generates enough power to run the lights in the school’s bus maintenance shop — and that’s about it.
High school science teacher Bill Nelson agreed, saying the point isn’t the $50 to $60 worth of electricity the turbine will produce — but the opportunity for hands-on learning for students.
“We’ll work with it when we’re studying renewable resources,” Nelson said. “This will show kids what’s available, and the potential that Kansas has for wind energy.”
A small antenna atop the turbine transmits data to the ground; Smalley demonstrated on his laptop some of the dozens of pieces of information available, including line voltage and turbine rpms.
“This is the way of the future,” said Smalley, who still services water-pumping windmills as well, including monthly oilings.
“Everything’s going to be wireless before long — I’ll be able to pull up to a school that’s having problems with a chiller, pull out my laptop and figure out what’s wrong even before I get out of my truck.”
The turbine’s three blades bear the signatures of first-, second- and third-graders in Lindsborg — the graduating classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022.
“The little kids thought it was pretty cool to be able to do that,” said Superintendent Glen Suppes. “And it’s something they’ll be using when they’re in high school.”