The St. Olaf wind turbine, affectionately named “Big Ole,” was struck by lightning on Sept. 2. The lightning inflicted noticeable damage on one of the turbine’s blades, putting it out of commission for 15 days. The facilities department and Vestas – a wind turbine manufacturer and installer – finished repairs on Sept. 16.
Big Ole contributes extensively to St. Olaf’s energy needs, helping the College reach its sustainability goals and achieve its carbon neutral status. Carbon neutrality means that all carbon emissions are offset by equivalent renewable energy production. Big Ole produces over 3,000,000 Kilowatt-hours of energy each year, helping the College meet the energy-intensive needs of Regents Hall of Natural Sciences. Even without Big Ole in full spin, the College maintained its carbon neutral status until repairs were completed. Big Ole turned 12 on Sept. 18.
Reporting contributed by: Daniel Vojcak