Wind power to electrify CSU

Apr 082007
Authors: Brian Park

Wind from the Colorado/Wyoming border is blowing in a new phase of CSU’s commitment to clean and renewable energy.

The CSU Research Foundation announced on March 29 the university would use 100 percent wind power to fuel its energy needs in the future.

“I’m not aware of another university that is directly responsible for a wind farm project like this,” said Wade Troxell, associate dean for research and economic development in the College of Engineering and an elected Fort Collins City Council member for District 4. “CSU is taking a leadership role in demonstrating sustainability practices.”

The wind farm, to be built in partnership with Wind Holding LLC on the university’s 11,000-acre Maxwell Ranch near the Wyoming border, will take about eight years to complete.

The site will also serve as a research laboratory and offer students the chance to become involved in numerous areas of the project, whether it be wind power or agriculture, clean energy or environmental impact studies.

“We have the unique opportunity to get students involved in wind power,” said Bill Farland, vice president for research at CSU.

Undergraduate and graduate students will be able to get hands on experience at Maxwell Ranch. Field trips and research studies are also being planned for students, Farland said.

The CSU Green Power Project will supply energy to the main campus, Foothills campus and Pingree Park. The wind farm will generate more power than the university consumes, enabling CSU to sell energy back to the power grid and make a profit.

“What we’re looking at over the life of a 25-year program is that CSU could see an additional $30 million in revenue for the university,” Farland said. “The amount of revenue will be dependent on the cost of energy in the future and how these turbines are built.”

About 25 wind turbines will be built and Wind Holding LLC has two years to begin construction. The Maxwell Ranch is located about 30 miles north of Fort Collins off of U.S. Highway 287.

The wind farm will generate anywhere from 65 to 200 megawatts of power – CSU currently uses about 16 megawatts when at peak demand.

While the university’s energy needs will continue to grow because of increasing student enrollment and the construction of new buildings and infrastructure, enough excess energy will still be present to sell back to the grid.

The project “is just another step in the university’s overall goal to develop reliable and ecologically sound energy alternatives to fossil fuels and to continue groundbreaking research in this area,” said CSU President Larry Penley in a statement.

In 2004, CSU became one the first universities in the nation to offer student residents the option to buy wind power for an additional $17 a year.

Currently CSU buys wind power for 20 university buildings from Xcel Energy.

“This is a win-win situation with regard to the university contributing to renewable energy activities,” Farland said.

Staff writer Brian Park can be reached at

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