James Madison University

NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.

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JMU Propels Change With Wind Research

By JESSICA CLARKE
Daily News-Record

PHOTO: Dr. Steve Frysinger

Photo: Holly Marcus

A group at James Madison University is helping propel a wind energy of change.

Projects to evaluate wind power are proceeding around Virginia with the support of the department of integrated science and technology.

"We’re so far behind our neighbors, and we know we have a resource," says Jonathan Miles, who teaches in the department and directs its involvement with the Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative.

The group is studying zoning initiatives and ways to market wind energy and developing a guide for wind power.

Pennsylvania and West Virginia have more developed wind energy programs than Virginia.

JMU is administering a three-year program in the state to measure wind at homes and farms.

The program, with the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and U.S. Department of Energy, collects information about wind availability and speed.

About 30 sites in the Shenandoah Valley and elsewhere are being tested in the program, which could become a model for other states.

JMU and the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy helped form the wind energy collaborative, which has members from universities and businesses.

In a proposed state program, JMU representatives would give landowners grants to install wind turbines to generate electricity.

The program would be mainly educational.

"If we’re going to change the way things are done, people need to be educated," says Ken Jurman with the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

JMU members of the wind energy collaborative have asked the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors to amend the zoning ordinance to allow wind towers to measure wind and produce electricity.

County officials are studying the request.

In Virginia, making small-scale wind power at a home, business or farm cost-effective is possible but would be easier with incentives, Miles says.

Wind projects that generate electricity for widespread use eventually will be competitive with conventional energy sources in Virginia, he says.

JMU’s involvement in wind power started with research by Miles’ students.

Wind matters, Miles says, because "Cheap oil production is going to end. Like it or not, it’s the future."