It's Easy Being Green...

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 697 has been building a 100-kilowatt turbine on its new environmentally-friendly campus at 7200 Mississippi St., near the Hobart border. The turbine – which is about a third as big as the turbines in the Meadow Lake Wind Farm off Interstate 65 near Brookston – will go online this week. The 160-foot-tall wind turbine can generate enough electricity to power 15 homes.

"We're embracing this future technology," said Ryan Reithel, business representative for the union.

Local union building trades and apprentices – including electricians, iron-workers, carpenters, and cement masons – have spent the last few weeks constructing a turbine that will be used as a working model for training, maintenance and tower rescue. The laborers gained experience the union hopes will come in handy in the future, since they expect wind towers will become a more prevalent part of the landscape in the future.

"There will be job opportunities to build turbines when these projects come to the area," Reithel said. "They will already have this work on their resume."

Union members already have been training on the 21.5-kilowatt solar panels on the roof of the building, which has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification, which is like a Good Housekeeping Seal for sustainability. They maintain the panels, and earn certifications in the process.