Will Children Lead Nebraska To Wind?

Nebraska is no liberal bastion of Prius-driving, latte-sipping, public-radio-listening clean-energy devotees. But it is windy, and there’s a move afoot in the state’s schools that could, in the long run, help boost a wind-industry that lags far behind its potential.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America campaign recently posted news that its Wind for Schools project in Nebraska “has seen tremendous growth since its inception in 2007,” surging from just three schools participating in the first year to 21 today. Wind for Schools installs small wind turbines at rural elementary and secondary schools by linking them up with wind-industry education and training programs at colleges — such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nebraska Wind

image via NREL

The biggest challenge the schools face, according to Nebraska Wind for Schools facilitator Dan McGuire, is finding funding sources for the projects. But McGuire has had some recent successes, scoring $16,000 each for eight projects this year alone from the Nebraska State Environmental Protection. He called that “a tremendous boost” and said he expects several more grants of that magnitude soon.

That should help boost the number of the program’s participants that actually have turbines installed, which now stands at seven.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.