HAYS, Kansas – Two huge wind turbines went online last year to generate electricity for Fort Hays State University.
Now, faculty and especially students are finding out just how the “green energy” is helping cut costs, including tuition.
The wind turbines can be seen from the Fort Hays campus. and it’s helping cut the university’s electricity costs.
“About two years ago, Dr. Ed Hammond had the vision that we should take advantage of the wind that we’re experiencing right here now, by putting up wind turbines, being able to generate the electricity to run to operate our campus,” said Kent Steward, Director of University Relations.
The two wind turbines generate enough electricity to run the entire university and save them almost a million dollars a year.
Those savings are being felt by students in the form of lower tuition.
While on average, Kansas universities have raised tuition by 4 percent, Fort Hays has only had to increase theirs by half that.
“Well, everything that we do that reduces the cost of a higher education is, especially during times of recession and uh you know slow recovery, it all has to be a good benefit as student’s look for a place that they wanna go to school,” says Steward.
Fort Hays students say the wind turbines are paying off both for the environment and keeping the cost of college down.
“I really appreciate it because it makes us a more eco-friendly school, as well as it keeps our costs down, and so I’m actually able to afford school, and I’m not in any debt yet so that’s really great,” says Shelbi Wiles, a senior at Fort Hays.
“We’re improving our technology and we’re helping the environment, and at the same time it’s making you know education more accessible to students so it’s kind of a win win situation,” says Emily Leiker a sophomore.
It should come as no surprise that wind energy is a growing business in Kansas.
According to industry analysts, only Texas has more potential to produce electricity from wind power.
In fact, if Kansas tapped its potential, it could produce seventy-five percent of all the electricity generated in the United States.
The state has seen a huge increase in wind energy, about 75 percent per year since 2001.
In 2013, wind power accounted for nearly 20 percent of electricity generated in Kansas.