(Lydia Hastings is working at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center as the Marketing AmeriCorps VISTA. She originally joined the OEC staff over the summer as the Kitchen Coordinator.)
West Virginia is the largest producer of coal in the United States, and with more than 30 states receiving the majority of their electric power from this natural resource, the industry is stronger then ever. The West Virginia Office of Miners Health, Safety, and Training reports that West Virginia alone generates 99 percent of its electricity from coal mined in the state.
It is widely understood that these fossil fuels will not be around indefinitely, and there is a push to figure out ways to harness new energy sources.
Wind Generators, some people believe, are the new wave of renewable energy sources. The towering, free standing generators produce no greenhouse gas emissions and significantly less waste products, and have no effect on water sources. West Coast Energy, an independent wind energy developer, states that a single wind turbine can save more than 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Wind power is not a new concept. The knowledge and the means to harness wind power has been around since the 7th century AD. It has been used for irrigation pumping and milling for decades, but only since the late 1970s has it been a large-scale producer of electricity. West Virginia installed its first large scale wind farm in 2002.
The Outdoor Education Center of For Love of Children is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint by erecting a small-scale wind turbine, which will help supplement the electricity in their Lodge’s power grid by producing 1.75 kilowatts of electricity per hour.
Any energy not consumed by the Lodge will be sent to the Allegany Power grid and supplement electricity for local consumption. This seven-foot diameter wind turbine will not only reduce the OEC’s dependence on coal-generated electricity, but also be used as a teaching tool for the students in addition to the OEC’s already existing solar panel. Both teaching tools will show and demonstrate the powerful use of alternative, renewable energy sources.
While research continues for cleaner energy sources, the OEC continues to advance its own technologies and remains on the leading edge in environmental education. We are strongly dedicated to creating a well-built, self sustained learning environment for all who come to enjoy the center’s wilderness.