A wind turbine and 20 solar panels could soon produce energy on Love Circle through a partnership between Metro government and Vanderbilt University.
Taking advantage of one of the highest points in Nashville, Metro officials are hoping to install the devices at a Metro Water Services reservoir atop the hill for a pilot study to explore using alternative forms of energy to power government facilities. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt engineering students would use the facility to research the viability of renewable energy.
The machines wouldn’t generate power specifically to the surrounding Hillsboro-West End neighborhood, project leaders say, but the energy would contribute to Tennessee Valley Authority’s power grid.
“It’s just a good opportunity to make some steps to see how we can go about reducing our consumption of nonrenewable resources and reducing our bills in the future” said Metro Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde, who represents the Love Circle neighborhood.
“There’s great interest in Metro government becoming energy self-sustained.”
According to water department spokeswoman Sonia Harvat, the project would cost Metro slightly less than $97,000. The city would take ownership of the turbine and solar panels, she said, and pay for installation and maintenance.
“This would definitely be something that helps us in determining the feasibility of setting up alternate energy power at some of [the water department’s] remote facilities,” Harvat said. “We think this is going to be a great pilot study.
“We’ll be the beneficiary, but Vanderbilt will be able to utilize it,” Harvat added. “They’re helping us do the up-front work, as well as giving us their data, as far as research and feasibility.”
LaLonde and other council members have sponsored a bill that would approve the agreement between Metro and Vanderbilt and sign off on the funds. The ordinance cleared the first of three votes at Tuesday’s council meeting.
“It’s a small wind turbine, a low-noise wind turbine,” LaLonde said. “The neighborhood that surrounds Love Circle is very excited about being a part of the energy solution.”
Amrutur Anilkumar, professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt, said the university began searching for a site that met all requirements for a wind turbine last year. The spot was found in Love Circle, conveniently located blocks from the school.
Anilkumar, VU’s point man for the project, said Love Circle’s wind/solar-based power-generating facility would produce about 30 kWk each day, which he said is the average amount of power consumed by a U.S. household daily.
“Through a combination of wind and solar, we want to achieve that number,” he said. “Further, we want to set up a station there so people can see what power is being produced. If there’s no wind blowing, obviously there will be no wind power. If there’s no sun shining, there will be no sun power.”
From an education standpoint, Anilkumar said Vanderbilt students would help supervise the site and launch a website to monitor the power being produced.
“What are the returns? What is the investment?” he said. “All of this, we want to make available to the public who are potentially thinking about it.”