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Native American College Reduces Energy Costs

Sitting Bull College, a Native American school in North Dakota, recently installed a wind turbine to cut energy costs.
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Sitting Bull College (SBC) in Fort Yates, North Dakota recently completed construction on a 40-foot, 100-kilowatt wind turbine that will help reduce the school’s yearly operating costs.

“Forecasting revenue is always tricky, but the flip side to forecasting revenue is managing our operating costs effectively, especially since our utility costs run approximately $120,000 per year,” Dr. Laurel Vermillion, SBC president said in a press release.

The wind turbine is connected to the Science and Technology Center and is expected to save the school about $30,000 a year, not counting surplus energy that’s sold back to Mor-Gran-Sou, the local electric cooperative. The project cost about $930,000 and was funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as additional funding from the U.S. Department of Education Title III program.

“This new addition to our campus couldn’t have come at better time,” Vermillion said in the release. “Every year we are looking at new ways for our college to operate more efficiently so we can pass along that cost savings to our students.”

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In fact, SBC was recently named the lowest-cost public four-year school by the U.S. Department of Education.

Planning for the wind turbine project began in July 2009, and according to Dr. Koreen Ressler—SBC’s vice president of academics and the project’s director—choosing a location for the turbine was a “critical factor.”

“The board of trustees and administrators wanted the turbine to be visible on the campus, but we also had to consider a location that would provide the most potential for wind,” she said.

Aside from the new wind turbine, the college also utilizes Geo-Thermal heating in all campus buildings and recently completed a $40 million capital campaign. As of June all operations were on the new campus including the Cultural Center, student-family housing complex, the Science & Technology Center, a Family Support Center, a Public Transit Center, an Entrepreneurial Center, a Student Support Center, Finance Center and Trades Center.